The Madison County Sheriff’s Department received a $63,060 state grant to prevent impaired driving, unrestrained children and lack of seat belt wearers.
The sheriff’s department has received this grant each year since Sheriff Randy Tucker was elected in 2012, and a number of years prior to his appointment to sheriff. The fund can be used for equipment to prevent drunk driving or for extra manpower to prevent these violations. Madison County will be using the grant to fund overtime for its officers willing to participate in work for the grant.
“Any officer that works under that grant application is eligible to be paid at a rate of time and a half,” Tucker said. “Their work has to be specifically geared toward those areas of enforcement.”
The officers that participate in the extra hours to enforce these specific infractions will install checkpoints and saturation patrols around Madison County. A checkpoint is another term for a roadblock where the officers will check for violations of the seatbelt, child restraint and impaired driving.
“Under the law now and under the grant, checkpoints have to be set up equally across the county in different areas based on demographics and location so that no one area is targeted,” Tucker said.
Saturation patrols occur when a specific area or stretch of road has seen a large number of impaired driving and citations. The patrols consist of saturating the area with more officers for a given period of time.
“All that has to be outlined in your briefing and debriefing, and all those citations need to reflect that particular area,” Tucker said. “It is basically a net over an area and you saturate it (with officers).”
The department has a goal of lowering the number of alcohol related fatalities from four in 2019 to three by the end of 2022, and injuries from 22 to 20. As well as maintain no deaths due to drug impaired driving and reduce the number of drug impaired injuries from six to five. In order to do so, the department will create 12 checkpoints and 52 saturation patrols during the timeframe of the grant, which began Oct. 1 and will continue through Sept. 30, 2022. Tucker said they have seen success with these measures taken through the grant in the past
“We have a lot of interstate in Madison County, and our traffic fatality numbers in a given timeframe met the requirements for the grant application,” Tucker said. “We were awarded that grant based on those factors.”
Part of the grant requirements is that the department will participate in Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaigns on holidays. These campaigns are state-generated with the Department of Public Safety and Highway Patrol. Any agency participating in state grant funding is asked to participate as well as any other agency that has the manpower.
“There is a greater number of travelers on the road ways so they ask that all officers participate and be especially aware of impaired driving, and we report those numbers directly to the state for a period of a given time,” Tucker said.
Tucker said the goal of all these measures is to save lives. He said this grant helps get drunk drivers off the road, which can save their lives and the lives of others. Additionally, he said seatbelts and child restraints are proven to save lives.
“At the end of the day, it is to save lives,” Tucker said. “Pure and simple.”