Police get federal traffic safety grant

By: JO MORELAND - Staff Writer

ESCONDIDO -- Two more motorcycle officers will be patrolling local streets under an $851,731 traffic safety grant received by the Escondido Police Department.

The two-year Traffic Safety Education and Enforcement Program grant funneled through the state Office of Traffic Safety, with federal money provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, started Oct. 1.

In addition to paying for two officers, the money will be used for strategies targeting drivers who violate laws and cause collisions and for enforcing laws to try to reduce fatal and injury collisions in the city, authorities said Monday.

"It's not just about Escondido," said police Lt. Mike Loarie.

He said traffic safety affects visitors and others in the area, in addition to the residents.

Last year six people died because of traffic crashes in inland Escondido, one of the region's older communities with a population of about 140,000.

Another six people died in 2005 because of traffic crashes in the city, Loarie said.

Police planned to reveal today the highlights of the new grant, its goals and how the work will be done.

"It covers a lot of areas," said Chris Cochran, spokesman for the Office of Traffic Safety in Sacramento.

In addition to the usual sobriety and driver's license checkpoints and patrols looking for drivers who have been drinking, Cochran said, the grant will focus on such efforts as a "Hot Sheet" program.

The "Hot Sheet" program will notify patrol and traffic officers to watch for people whose driver's licenses have been suspended or revoked because of repeated driving under the influence convictions.

Court "sting" operations will target convicted driving under the influence offenders when they get behind the wheel after leaving court, according to the grant.

It said enforcement operations will also concentrate on drivers who run red lights, speed aggressively, or drive vehicles equipped with illegal street racing equipment.

People who don't buckle up in cars will also get more attention from police.

The enforcement operations will concentrate on intersections that have more traffic crashes than others, the grant said.

The new grant overlaps an earlier, two-year grant for $802,019 that ends March 31 after adding four more officers and up to two high school traffic safety programs in Escondido, in addition to enforcement programs.

-- Contact staff writer Jo Moreland at (760) 740-3524 or jmoreland@nctimes.com.