March 06, 2006

SIUC police will step up traffic enforcement

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety will again be using extra patrols this month to crack down on drunken driving.

SIUC police will conduct a fourth round of concentrated traffic enforcement from March 12 through March 26. The department uses a federal safety grant through the Illinois Department of Transportation for the program. The University last fall received a $16,118 grant through the transportation department's Mini- Alcohol Enforcement Program, or MAP grant – the fourth year SIUC received the funding.

The grant allows SIUC to hire off-duty officers to conduct traffic enforcement activities for a specific number of hours over a two-week period. The award is allowing the department to pay for 336 hours of additional patrol time during eight enforcement periods between Oct. 1, 2005 and Sept. 30, 2006.

This upcoming enforcement period is one chosen the past few years by the SIUC police, Public Safety Director Todd D. Sigler said. Warmer weather, spring break and people becoming more mobile after the winter months are among the reasons for choosing this time, he said.

The program's emphasis is on enforcing DUI, speeding and safety belt laws.

In the previous enforcement campaign in December, there were two arrests for driving under the influence of alcohol, one arrest for zero tolerance violation, five tickets for speeding, one arrest for driving while license suspended, one drug-related arrest, and one seat belt violation.

Promoting campus safety is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches 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.

An additional component of the program is that $100 from DUI fines goes back to the Department of Public Safety. The department used the funds to buy cameras for each of five squad cars and to replenish traffic citation books. The department is in the process of upgrading to digital cameras in each of the squad cars.

SIUC is one of approximately 29 police agencies — and only two universities — in the state to receive the MAP federal safety funds this year. Western Illinois University in Macomb also received funding.