June 20, 2005

Police expand traffic enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

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

The concentrated enforcement period began today (June 20) and runs through Sunday, July 3.

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 anticipates 45 hours of extra patrol will occur. The two-week enforcement period includes most of the July 4th holiday weekend.

Sigler emphasizes that it is important for motorists and passengers to think about safety, including observing posted speed limits, wearing seat belts, and not drinking and driving. Pre-selecting designated drivers is vital if alcohol is going to be a part of holiday celebrations, picnics and barbecues, Sigler said.

Police made five arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol in the last two-week enforcement period that ended June 4, which included the Memorial Day holiday. Police also issued two alcohol-related citations for illegal transportation and zero tolerance violations; 17 speeding tickets; and four citations and one written warning for safety belt violations. Police also made one drug-related arrest and two weapons-related arrests.

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.