October 11, 2007
Dougherty County -- The Albany Police Department lost its state H.E.A.T. Grant, but Dougherty County Police will get money for another year to keep those traffic enforcers on the road. The Governor's Office of Highway Safety says a big cut in their federal funding forced them to slash money for H.E.A.T.
But the Albany Police Department's is the only program in the state to be dropped. This morning Dougherty County Police H.E.A.T. Officers stop a speeding truck coming into the county, saying they might have just prevented a fatal crash.
Lt. Tom Jackson said "if you see the H.E.A.T. Cars, you better be obeying the traffic laws."
Those H.E.A.T. Officers are partially paid for by grants from the state, but now that program is being cut back because of a two million dollar federal funding cut. The Albany Police Department, which was one of the first H.E.A.T. Programs started in the state in 2003, will not get any funding now.
All the other 26 H.E.A.T. programs in the state had their grants cut back, but Albany Police lost their grant totally. Governor's Office of Highway Safety officials say Albany Police H.E.A.T.'s program has been a big success fighting D.U.I. Drivers, aggressive driving, and speeders. But state officials say cut backs made them decide to keep funding the Dougherty County Police H.E.A.T. unit, and drop Albany's unit.
Dougherty County's H.E.A.T. program started in 2005, and Officers say they can see progress. Jackson said "we have actually reduced our DUI's, and our fatalities have been cut in half, along with our injury accidents. And our enforcement has picked up."
Albany Police Chief James Younger told the state office he will keep their H.E.A.T. units on the road with the same mission, despite losing the grant money. Those blue cars belong to A.P.D.
Dougherty County will continue to receive state money to pay for Officers to stop speeders and impaired drivers, and try to cut crashes in the community.
The City of Albany will continue to receive more than $50,000 from the state to fund the Safe Communities Program to educate the community on traffic safety. Albany Police will also still get a $15,000 grant to continue to work jointly with other South Georgia law agencies enforcing traffic laws.