Granite PD awarded for Safe & Sober campaign efforts

By Sarah Elmquist Editor

The Granite Falls Police Department has been awarded for a job well done. The crew is one of only nine law enforcement agencies in the state to have been awarded with traffic enforcement equipment after a successful Safe & Sober December Impaired Driving Mobilization by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety's Office of Traffic Safety.

A new Kustom ProLaser III speed laser was presented to the department earlier this week. The laser is valued at about $3,000, and can show an officer both the speed and distance of a vehicle instantly. It also has a back display light for nighttime use.

“Getting people to buckle up, slow down and to drive sober is the most important job in the department,” said Chief Russell Blue, “as it undoubtedly is more likely to save a life than anything else we can do. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Minnesotans usually considered too young to die - those between one and 34 years of age. People crash for a variety of reasons, including impaired driving; they die because they are not buckled up.”

“It's impossible to tell exactly how many or whose lives are saved when we emphasize traffic enforcement,” said officer Brian Struffert. “When we use a well-balanced educational and enforcement program, we are getting many more people to buckle up, slow down and to not drive impaired. All that we know for sure is that lives are being saved and very likely, they are young and may be those from our community. What many do not realize is that most of the typical 600 fatalities that occur in out-state Minnesota occur in rural areas, such as the Yellow Medicine County area.

The Safe & Sober campaign is a state-wide and national law enforcement program aimed at increasing seat belt and child seat use and decrease the incidents of impaired driving. The Granite Falls Police Department worked with more than 264 Minnesota law enforcement agencies, making over 1,747 DWI arrests during the 16-day campaign, which ran from Dec. 16 through Dec. 31.