The Ottumwa Courier

Southeast Iowa

November 26, 2013

Police preach safety this holiday season

OTTUMWA — There will be more police officers on the roads for the rest of this week to help keep drivers safe as they travel to Thanksgiving get-togethers.

In Ottumwa, extra officers will be on the roads looking for drivers who are breaking the law thanks to a traffic grant that helps pay for the wear-and-tear on equipment and overtime reimbursement.

According to Lt. Mickey Hucks of the Ottumwa Police Department, the traffic grants last for three years, and they are able to get significantly more to help with costs than they would with other programs used by law enforcement departments.

The Centerville Police Department uses a different program every year to help with the cost of added officers on the road. They used sTEP (Special Traffic Enforcement Program), which is a program sponsored by the Iowa Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB).

“It’s just something that we’ve participated in for years,” said Tom Demry, chief of police with the Centerville Police Department. “It helps us get the word out about traffic safety."

According to Demry, his officers will be spending a little more time than they usually would on traffic enforcement to help catch drunk drivers and others who are making the roads unsafe. Just like with the traffic grant OPD uses, sTEP helps with the overtime costs that will come with added officers on the roads. Demry said drivers should anticipate more police officials being out today and Friday.

Although the Ottumwa Police Department does not participate in sTEP directly, they do help with the statistics used by the program. They provide the numbers they get on traffic stops and other related calls to sTEP, so the figures the program uses will be as up-to-date and relevant as possible.

Whether it is through a traffic grant or a program like sTEP, police departments everywhere will surely be using more officers than usual this week due to to the holidays. Drivers should be wary of them and do their best to practice safe driving to and from Thanksgiving gatherings.

— To see reporter Josh Vardaman's Twitter feed, go to @CourierJosh

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