Local law enforcement is planning to focus more attention on drunk driving offenders and motorcycle safety while the state Office of Traffic Safety is going to be picking up the tab.
The Bishop Police Department has been awarded a new $53,000 traffic safety grant for a year-long anti-DUI program aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on local roadways.
“The Bishop Police Department is dedicated to keeping our streets safe through both enforcement and education,” Interim Police Chief Chris Carter. “This grant has an overtime component to keep officers on the street as well as an equipment component.”
Carter said the Bishop Police Department will be investing in additional radar units to monitor traffic speed, blood-alcohol sensors for the field and a DUI enforcement trailer that will serve as a base of operations for sobriety checkpoints and other large-scale field operations.
The DUI Enforcement and Awareness grant is designed to assist in efforts to reduce the number of people killed and injured in alcohol and other drug-related collisions. The grant specifies activities that will target impaired driving offenders as well as educate the public on the dangers of impaired driving.
In Bishop, this will be done through the use of DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, warrant searches and stakeouts for repeat DUI offenders, saturation patrols and court stings targeting DUI offenders with suspended or revoked driver’s licenses who get behind the wheel after leaving court.
Carter said the Bishop PD teams up with the CHP twice a year to conduct sobriety, seat belt and driver’s license checkpoints. Utilizing the grant, he said, there will be at least four checkpoints this year.
Carter also said that officers will be able to utilize the grant money to check up on repeat offenders to be sure they are not getting behind the wheel while intoxicated or if their license has been suspended because of prior convictions.
“The grant is pretty broad in the areas of enforcement,” Carter said. “If we know there’s an offender with multiple convictions and we’ve heard that they’ve been drinking and driving, or if we suspect that they have, we can be on the look-out for those specific people.”
Drunk driving is one of America’s deadliest crimes. In 2009, nearly 11,000 people died in highway crashes involving a driver or motorcycle operator with a blood alcohol concentration of .08 or higher.
“Last year in California 950 people died in alcohol-impaired crashes, a 7.6 percent reduction in deaths from 2008,” said Christopher J. Murphy, director of the Office of Traffic Safety. “This grant will help keep that trend going by getting drunk drivers off the roadways of Bishop, making it safer for everyone.”
The grant also provides for two special Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Operations.
Carter said the Bishop Police Department has not had a lot of trouble with unsafe motorcycle riders locally, but noted that statewide motorcycle fatalities were on an incline until last year.
Last year motorcycle fatalities dropped for the first time after an 11-year, 175 percent increase. These operations are aimed at keeping that decline going.
Carter said the grant will fund special details to patrol the area and specifically pay attention to motorcycle riders, so extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas frequented by motorcycles. Officers will be cracking down on all traffic violations made by motorcyclists, and other vehicle drivers.
These special operations began Oct. 1 and will run 12 months.