August 27, 2004

SIUC Police plan to step up patrols

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is again using a grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation to promote motorist safety.

The eighth and final drunk driving enforcement campaign of the current federal safety grant begins Monday, Aug. 30, and concludes Sunday, Sept. 12. The intensified patrols include Labor Day weekend.

Capt. Todd D. Sigler of SIUC's police department notes that the start of the fall semester and the three-day holiday weekend add up to a much larger number of vehicles traveling on campus and in the community. The focus of the enforcement effort is alcohol, seat belt usage and speeding.

The program allows SIUC police to hire back officers to conduct traffic enforcement activities for a specific number of hours over a two-week period. The campaign will consist of between 40 and 50 additional patrol hours, said Sigler.

"We would ask that people drive responsibly, and if they need to consume alcohol to do so responsibly as well, and use designated drivers," he said.

Last fall, the University received a $16,482 grant through the transportation department's Mini-Grant Alcohol Enforcement Program, or MAP grant. This is the second year the University received the funds. The first seven rounds were in October, November, December, March, April, May and June.

In the last enforcement period of June 21-July 4, there were seven arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol; five other alcohol-related offenses, such as illegal transportation; 10 safety belt violations; five speeding tickets; two tickets for driving with a suspended license; one child-restraint violation, one drug arrest; and one arrest of a person wanted on an outstanding warrant.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it celebrates its 150th anniversary in 2019.

SIUC is one of 22 police agencies -- and only two universities -- in the state to receive the federal safety funds this fiscal year.

The grant focuses on impaired drivers, but officers address seat belt use and other traffic safety issues. Among 18- to 34-year-old motorists killed in car crashes last year in Illinois, nearly eight out of 10 were not wearing seat belts, according to IDOT statistics.