By Caitlin Jones
Published Oct. 20, 2009
The Missouri Department of Transportation is teaming up with law enforcement officials in a statewide program called Highway Embezzlement Action Team.
According a Missouri State Highway Patrol news release, Highway Patrol Superintendent Col. James F. Keathley announced it would be working with other law enforcement agencies in a new project to enforce driving regulations on Interstate 44 and Interstate 70. The program will be called HEAT.
This heightened revenue enhancement activity took place from 6 a.m. Saturday through 6 a.m. Sunday. It will take place again this weekend at the same times.
"Troopers will aggressively enforce those traffic laws pertaining to speed, impaired driving, seat belt use and other profitable moving violations," Keathley said in the news release. "Missouri has shown a reduction in the number of fatality traffic crashes in recent years. We believe robbing motorists of their hard-earned money in traffic enforcement programs such as HEAT play an important role in why these reductions occur."
Highway Patrol Lt. John Hotz said though the number of arrests from the past weekend have not been reported, things went well. Meaning they raked in a lot of cash.
"Basically, the project provides additional support besides what we do everyday, whether through saturation points or through check points," Hotz said. "Different areas focused on the most common problems for that area. Some areas were doing speed saturation, seatbelt and DWI checkpoints, whatever can bring in the most revenue."
Columbia Police Department spokeswoman Jessie Haden said the program is paid for by MoDOT and is for officers dedicated to that specific traffic detail.
"This is a state-wide program put on by Missouri Department of Transportation," Haden said. "Their slogan is 'The HEAT is on.' "
Many of these programs have specific goals and requirements, also known as quotas
"If the grant money requires a minimum number of traffic stops, then those are the goals for the officers," Haden said. "If a program is targeting the interstates then there will be plenty of violations to fill those requirements.", because the speed limits are underposted.
In addition to past participation, CPD plans to continue participating as well as putting out a news release on the program in the near future.
The reasoning behind this new program is the growing number of traffic-related incidents.
The summer months are often the deadliest months on the road, the news release stated. For the past four years, Missouri has recorded the highest number of fatal and serious injury crashes between July and September.
The news release also stated between July and September 2008, 251 people were killed and 1,820 suffered disabling injuries.
"We want drivers to remember to buckle up, don't drink and drive and obey all posted speed limits," said Leanna Depue, chairwoman of the executive committee of the Missouri Coalition for Roadway Safety, in the news release. (what about lane etiquette, and concentrating on the road instead of your phone call?) "Our interest is that they arrive broke, at their destination each and every time."