- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The Carroll County Sheriff’s Office will use $29,000 it is receiving from two grants to focus on traffic safety issues this year.
Drunken driving, seat belt usage, distracted driving — such as texting while behind the wheel — and speed enforcement are just a few of the areas the sheriff’s office will be targeting through September.
In an interview Tuesday, Sheriff Jamie Kinman and his office’s grant writer Jennifer Willhoite discussed the grants and how the sheriff’s office will put the funds to work to make driving safer in Carroll County.
Analysis of Traffic Crash Data in Kentucky shows that crashes and injury accidents are on the rise. According to the grant application, there were 441 crashes in 2011, up from 263 in 2009. The data also shows that Carroll County tops the state in truck crashes at 248 between 2006 and 2010, the largest number for a county in the 10,000 to 14,999 population category.
The work on safety begins in January with a $6,000 Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Office of Highway Safety grant which will enable the sheriff’s office to step up enforcement of impaired driving in the county.
“I believe DUIs have dropped from five years ago,” Kinman said. The grant shows that the sheriff’s office issued 31 DUI citations in 2011, which were at 17 in 2010 and 33 in 2009.
Under the grant, the sheriff’s office hopes to increase DUI arrests by 10 percent and speeding citations 25 percent by September. The funding will allow them to dedicate about 48 hours to this enforcement, according to the grant.
The second grant, $23,000 from the National Sheriff’s Association, working with the National Traffic Safety Administration and the U.S. Department of Transportation, will provide funds for a “Click It Carroll County” campaign to run from April to September this year.
These funds will focus on seat belt usage, general safety and distracted driving, Willhoite said.
While statistics from the Analysis of Traffic Crash Data show seat belt usage in Carroll County at 70.7 percent between 2006-2010, Willhoite said the office will develop its own benchmark during March.
Deputies will be assigned to stand at particular locations for an hour to count seat belt usage, she said. They will do the same at the end to determine the improvement over the baseline numbers.
The office also will conduct a public information survey during Click It Carroll County, but details of that have yet to be worked out. This survey will be provided to the sheriff’s office by the national organization planning the campaign.
Unlike the first grant that funds overtime work by deputies, Willhoite said this grant money can cover work on grant items during regular shifts. However, deputies can only perform work related to the grant during these times and nothing else.
Kinman said because his department has just three deputies, Carrollton Police Department will work with him by providing two officers to assist in the campaign and enforcement.
Due to the heavy caseload of the sheriff’s office, he said Chief Mike Willhoite has agreed to work with him so all of the grant funding is used to improve safety on the county’s roads.
One of the key components of the NSA grant is educating the community.
This will include programs he hopes to offer through the schools and the community. “We hope to educate people,” Kinman said.
Jennifer Willhoite said anyone wanting a program on these topics can invite an officer to come and present to their group or organization.
The Click It Carroll County will begin with a kick-off program in April that will involve the public.
“KSA will coordinate when we do a kickoff for the state of Kentucky,” she said. There will probably be a statewide event in Frankfort, followed by kickoffs in the three counties in the state that received the funding. Carroll County is the smallest awarded the $23,000, with Franklin and Graves counties also receiving funds.
The funding will allow the sheriff’s office to increase enforcement in these areas that the current budget does not allow for. “We don’t have the money in the budget to do that,” he said.
Willhoite said these programs will give local law enforcement the time and money to work on safety issues that will protect everyone.
Some of the programs listed in the grant include working with local insurance companies to provide incentives to customers spotted wearing seat belts, working with medical personnel to dispel myths about wearing seat belts, training childcare personnel on safety seats and educating farmers on the added safety seat belts can provide them in their work. These are in addition to educational programs offered in schools, churches and civic groups.
“We believe that if the citizens of Carroll County, and even those who are merely driving through, recognize that law enforcement in this county are interested in preserving personal and public safety through the use of seat belts that the usage rate will increase,” the grant application states.