$1.4 million in state grants for Sonoma County traffic safety, drunken-driving enforcement
Nov 26, 2012 (The Press Democrat - McClatchy-Tribune Information Services via COMTEX) --
Sonoma County law agencies have received about $1.4 million in state grants for traffic safety and drunken-driving enforcement.
The money will go toward numerous programs, including pedestrian safety enforcement in Santa Rosa, DUI checkpoints countywide and motorcycle safety by CHP officers, and it will help Sonoma County probation officers keep a closer watch on repeat drunken drivers.
The state Office of Traffic Safety each fall gives millions of dollars to agencies statewide. The grants are competitive and based partially on collision statistics. About half of the grants requested are funded, said Chris Cochran, Office of Traffic Safety spokesman.
Four police agencies received grants for drunken-driving enforcement: $75,850 for the Santa Rosa Police Department, $34,850 for the Petaluma Police Department, $32,410 for the Rohnert Park Public Safety Department and $11,900 for the Sebastopol Police Department.
Sonoma County law enforcement overall received a $280,000 grant for its Avoid the 13 anti-DUI Task Force. That pays for numerous drunken-driving checkpoints held annually during several holiday periods.
All of the county's 13 agencies participate in the program, which is administrated by the Petaluma Police Department.
A new grant of $156,000 went this year to the Sonoma County Probation Department to pay for added surveillance and searches by officers of convicted drunken drivers on probation for felony DUI or multiple misdemeanor DUI convictions, Cochran said.
Supervision will include unannounced home searches, random alcohol and drug testing and monitoring to ensure compliance with court-ordered DUI education and treatment programs, Cochran said.
The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office received a $300,000 prosecution grant, and the county received $337,554 for the DUI treatment court.
Police officials also ask for state money to beef up their department's enforcement of a variety of traffic problems, from red-light runners and speeders to texting drivers.
For such efforts, the state gave Petaluma $230,000; Santa Rosa $90,000; Rohnert Park $40,000; Cotati $41,000; and Sebastopol $25,000.
Following a recent rash of fatal or near-fatal pedestrian and car collisions, Santa Rosa police will use some of that money to focus on pedestrian safety.
Officers will look for unsafe walkers and drivers and bicyclists who interfere with pedestrians, said Santa Rosa traffic Sgt. Rich Celli.
A 20-percent increase in fatal motorcycle crashes statewide from 2010 to 2011 has the CHP using some of its 2013 grant money for an extended motorcycle safety education and enforcement program, which will include efforts in Sonoma County, reported CHP officials.
The grant money comes from the Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
You can reach Staff Writer Randi Rossmann at 521-5412 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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