Police to boost patrols this holiday weekend
Grant funds overtime for deputies

By Danette Thompson
Thursday, May 24, 2007 10:16 AM CDT

Franklin County police will be out in force this holiday weekend in an effort to reduce the number of injuries and fatalities caused by traffic crashes.

The county Sheriff's Department recently received a grant from the Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) to help pay overtime for deputies working the Memorial Day weekend, from Friday, May 25, through Monday, May 28.

Additional deputies, as well as those assigned to regular patrol duties, will give special attention to heavily traveled roadways in the county, Sheriff Gary Toelke said, enforcing speed limits, hazardous moving violations and drunken driving.

"Traffic crashes are a serious concern for us," Toelke said. "Franklin County is one of the top five counties in Missouri for traffic crashes."

With more motorists on the roadways during the holiday weekend, the likelihood of traffic crashes increases.
According to data compiled by the Missouri Highway Patrol, Franklin County ranks fourth among all Missouri counties, with 4,554 traffic crashes reported in unincorporated portions of the county from 2004 through 2006.

Since December 2006, Toelke said county deputies have been working overtime because of a MoDOT speed-enforcement grant the Sheriff's Department received.

The grant provides funding for deputies working overtime to enforce speed limits, and also paid for additional radar equipment.

Franklin County ranked third in Missouri for speed-related crashes, with 1,668 such crashes from 2004 to 2006.

During the same period, the county ranked second in the state with 271 speed-related, disabling-injury crashes, and third in the state with 60 fatal speed-related crashes.

Since the Sheriff's Department started the speed-enforcement program in December, deputies have made 338 traffic stops for speed and other hazardous moving violations.

Toelke said the Sheriff's Department also is focusing on stopping motorists who drive drunk.

From 2004 to 2006, Franklin County ranked second in the state for fatal drunken-driving crashes and alcohol-related, disabling-injury crashes. The county ranked third for total alcohol-related traffic crashes, with 360.

County police will step up drunken-driving enforcement efforts, not only this weekend, but over the summer, Toelke said.

Earlier this year, the Sheriff's Department received a state grant aimed at reducing underage drinking. Since the program stated in April, deputies have issued 66 citations to minors in possession of alcohol.

Toelke said the Sheriff's Department initiated the program after state data showed the county ranked second for fatal traffic crashes and major disabling-injury traffic crashes involving drivers under 21 years old.

Drunken-driving enforcement efforts will include sobriety checkpoints at undisclosed locations throughout the county, Toelke said.

He said the locations will be chosen using traffic-crash data to pinpoint the most heavily traveled areas and areas where traffic crashes most often occur.

Contact Danette Thompson at dthompson@yourjournal.com