Longview Police receive traffic grant
The Longview Police Department has been awarded a Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (S.T.E.P.) grant from the Texas Department of Transportation for 2010 – 2011, awarding the Department of up to $62,109 to be used for providing additional traffic enforcement. Including local match funds, the S.T.E.P. grant has a total program budget of $95,560.63 that will be used to pay off-duty officers to conduct traffic enforcement on overtime. The current grant runs from October 1, 2010 through September 30, 2011.
The awarding of the grant represents the fourth consecutive year the Longview Police Department has received a comprehensive S.T.E.P. grant, which focuses enforcement on speeding violations, seatbelt violations, child restraint violations and driving while intoxicated. While seatbelt and DWI enforcement is conducted City-wide, speed enforcement is concentrated on ten sites that have been identified to have a compliance rate of less than fifty percent. Speed surveys conducted show compliance rates as low five percent at one site, to a high of forty-eight percent at a site that has been a S.T.E.P. speed site for several years.
The 500 – 900 block of E. Loop 281 had a compliance rate of only fourteen percent at the beginning of 2008, but has increased to forty-eight percent (48%) due to the increased enforcement provided by the S.T.E.P. grant. The higher compliance rate at this location is an indicator that the program is working to reduce overall speeds at that location, but still has a lot of violators.
The 2009 – 2010 Comprehensive S.T.E.P. grant ended on September 30, 2010. Work under that grant resulted in the following:
Number of Hours of Enforcement: 1,560
Speeding Tickets Issued: 2,876
Adult Seatbelt & Child Restraint Tickets Issued: 1,044
Other Tickets Issued: 1,019
DWI Arrests: 51
Arrests for Other Offenses: 57
According to Sgt. Buddy Molpus, Traffic Section Supervisor and Program Coordinator for S.T.E.P., it is the goal of S.T.E.P. to reduce the severity of traffic crashes that occur in Longview as well as reduce the number of crashes. “We know for a fact that the speed of vehicles involved in a crash plays a major role in how serious that crash will be. We also know that properly wearing seatbelts and using child safety seat systems correctly will reduce the number and severity of injuries received when a traffic crash does occur. If we can increase voluntary compliance with speed limits and convince motorists and their passengers to buckle up, we can make a positive impact on traffic safety in Longview,” Molpus said. “Crashes are going to happen. It’s inevitable. The number of crashes that happen may rise and fall from year to year because of a variety of factors outside of our control. But if we can reduce the overall severity, that’s huge,” said Sgt. Molpus.