June 29, 2006

Police step up enforcement of traffic safety laws

by Pete Rosenbery

 CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The July 4th holiday is approaching and the Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Department of Public Safety is working to help make sure it is safe for area motorists.

SIUC police are conducting a seventh round of concentrated traffic enforcement that began Monday, June 26, and continues through Sunday, July 9. The department is using 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 has received 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 during eight enforcement periods between Oct. 1, 2005, and Sept. 30, 2006.

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

In the previous enforcement campaign, conducted May 25-June 3, police arrested four motorists for driving under the influence of alcohol. There was one additional alcohol-related arrest, 15 tickets for speeding and five warnings for safety belt violations.

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.