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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

FTPD Receives DUI Enforcement Grant


Sobriety checkpoints are a common form of DUI enforcement. Photo via Flickr.

by PAT LaFLEUR 
Police Reporter, Fort Thomas Matters

The Kentucky Justice and Public Safety Cabinet has recently allocated a grant of over $15,000 to the Fort Thomas Police Department. The funds are part of an initiative to increase patrols for intoxicated drivers in Northern Campbell County.

According to FTPD Lt. James Gadzala, the officer who applied for the grant, this will mean an increase in street-patrolling for DUI-related incidents. "It will enable us to dedicate an officer to DUI enforcement several times a month," he said, "and will pay for all of the officers' overtime, gas for cruisers and court time." The FTPD will also use part of the grant money to purchase two new preliminary breath test devices. 

The grant money comes from DUI fines collected from convicted drunk drivers all across the state, which is then allocated to the Justice and Public Safety Cabinet for dispersement to police departments (per this Kentucky statute). The FTPD first received the grant back in 2009.

The grant will also help reallocate some patrol hours, many of which have been monopolized recently by the string of day- and nighttime theft and mischief throughout the summer, back to traffic enforcement. "Not only does the funding enable us to combat drinking and driving," Gadzala explained, "but it is funded at the expense of convicted impaired drivers and not at the expense of most tax payers."

In addition to refocusing more FTPD time on traffic enforcement, Gadzala describes the riverfront developments of The Banks and Horseshoe Casino as other factors the grant money might help police address. "Studies have shown large spikes in highway deaths near newly opened casinos," he explained. While these statistics describe casinos located primarily in rural settings, Gadzala extends that logic and predicts a possible increase on I-471 in Northern Campbell County, as well.

According to FTPD data available for the last four years, Fort Thomas has seen 59 alcohol related crashes, resulting in 32 injuries, and 2 fatalities. This equates to roughly 15 alcohol related crashes in Fort Thomas per year.

"It is our responsibility as a police department to find creative ways to protect our residents," Gadzala explained. The grant money will be available for allocation for the coming fiscal year.   

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