New STEP For Pennington County

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In a response to a high number of traffic accidents in Pennington County, the sheriff's office is starting a project called STEP. The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program will use two newly hired, full-time deputy sheriffs to monitor traffic and lead education efforts.

Its something many people in the Black Hills area do every day. Get in the car, start it up and go on their way. But now two Pennington County Deputy Sheriffs will be paying closer attention to their driving habits.

"There are a high number of crashes in the Pennington County area and in an effort to address those the opportunity for the "STEP" program arose," says Pennington County Sgt. Corey Brubakken.

County officials hope the two full time deputies make these roads a lot safer for the motoring public.

"Their jobs are to go out and enforce our traffic laws, whether that be by a citation or a written warning, which we can consider both educational opportunities, that's primarily their roles," adds Brubakken.

The new positions were created through a grant from the South Dakota Department of Public Safety and Office of Highway Safety. The program just started today, so county officials aren't exactly sure what changes drivers will notice.

Brubakken replies, "I don't know if you're going to be expecting more tickets. Its whether or not you're doing something to call attention to yourself."

Handing out citations is just one part of the job. The other involves offering educational opportunities, as well as listening to citizen complaints.

"It will hopefully help us identify those high risk areas and hopefully be able to help us eliminate or reduce the amount of traffic crashes which we are currently showing in Pennington County," says Brubakken.

The state grant provides two years of funding for the STEP program.

Other deputies will still be enforcing the county's traffic laws but thanks to the two involved with "STEP," the others can focus more attention on other areas of law enforcement.