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Area police officers are stepping up patrols as part of a statewide push to reduce traffic-related deaths.
The Joint Speed and Alcohol Grant administered by the state Bureau of Traffic Safety covers overtime for officers at 100 percent so police can step up patrols of intersections to target speeding, drivers who aren’t wearing their seat belts, and drivers operating under the influence.
“To prevent needless deaths and injuries, our officers will be out in force throughout the county as a cooperative effort looking for speeding and impaired motorists along with other unsafe driving behavior,” said Mount Pleasant police Captain Brian Smith.
MPPD is the fiscal agent for the grant, and officers from Sturtevant, Racine, Wisconsin State Patrol, Waterford, Burlington, and the Racine County Sheriff’s Department are participating in the push. It started last month and runs through September.
During the grant period, officers from these agencies will patrol across jurisdictions and conduct deployments in the participating communities.
Smith said a recent speed deployment on Spring Street in the City of Racine netted a number of citations. Officers staged another deployment in Mount Pleasant Friday.
Sturtevant police Chief Sean Marschke noted 240 traffic calls/stops in that village in May and credits part of the increase to his department’s participating in the grant initiative.
“We actually expect that number to rise because of the grant,” he said.
Aside from increasing safety on area roadways, there is a financial gain for the communities where stops are being made. Marschke told village trustees that citations issued in Sturtevant means fines paid to the village no matter if the officer initiating the stop is from Sturtevant or not.
“All that money stays here, or stays in Mount Pleasant or Burlington,” he said.
The chief has thought about utilizing social media to announce deployments, similar to how Wisconsin State Patrol uses Twitter to alert drivers to aerial surveillance.
“We might use social media to issue warnings and see if that makes a difference,” he added.
Smith said he anticipates there will be 15 formal deployments throughout the county with as many as 10 squad cars from the various agencies taking part. In smaller areas – like Sturtevant and Waterford – the deployments will be smaller.
“We will put two or three cars in the smaller municipalities which may (include) one from that jurisdiction and one or two from another jurisdiction,” he wrote in an email to Racine County Eye. “We will be having approximately 15 deployments.”