May 23, 2005

SIUC police expand traffic enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Southern Illinois University Carbondale Department of Public Safety is conducting expanded traffic enforcement to crack down on drunken driving.

The concentrated enforcement period began Sunday and runs through Saturday, June 4.

The increased enforcement is the result of a $15,892 grant the University received for a third consecutive year from the Illinois Department of Transportation's Mini-Alcohol Enforcement Program. The grant allows SIUC to hire off-duty officers for traffic enforcement activity for a specific number of hours over a two-week period. The grant pays for 336 hours of additional patrol time during eight enforcement periods through Sept. 30, 2005.

The grant focuses on impaired drivers, but officers address seat belt use and other traffic safety issues.

SIUC Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler said he anticipates the 45 hours of extra patrol will occur primarily on weekend nights. He notes that Memorial Day weekend – the unofficial start of the summer vacation season – occurs during this enforcement period.

"One of the things we have noticed in looking at our numbers is that there is a significant number of stops that involve non-students, which is an indication of the number of folks who come into Carbondale for entertainment," he said.

In the last two-week enforcement period that ended April 16, police made six arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol; issued 21 speeding tickets; issued 7 citations and 5 written warnings for safety belt violations; and made one arrest on an outstanding warrant.

Sigler urged motorists to remain vigilant.

"While there is not the usual number of students in the Carbondale area, the campus is going to be busy with a number of camps and conferences," Sigler said. "It's important to remember that while the campus may appear to be slower in activity there are still a number of people utilizing the campus."

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. Also consistent with Southern@150, DPS pursues new sources of external grant funding as well as educating students about high-risk behaviors that would compromise their safety.

SIUC is one of 29 police agencies — and only two universities — in the state to receive the federal safety funds this year. Western Illinois University in Macomb also received funding, according to IDOT's Division of Traffic Safety.