Summit County law enforcement receive grant to help cover DUI shifts
The Summit County Sheriff’s Office and the four police departments all received grants this month to aid with DUI enforcement. Dillon police received $35,000 from the Colorado Department of Transportation’s Law Enforcement Assistant Fund (LEAF). The Sheriff’s Office received $20,000, Frisco received $10,000 and Silverthorne received $13,000 this year. Breckenridge did not participate in the LEAF grant this year due to a staffing shortage, but they received $8,000 for high-visibility enforcement for 2014-15.
“We’ll set up special DUI shifts that deputies will work, and they’ll get paid out of this fund,” said Summit County Sheriff’s Office commander Jaime FitzSimons. “The five departments up here all have it, so we try to spread it out so we’re not working the same night.”
CDOT will list enforcement periods over a series of weekends, and one agency will set up a “DUI car” for each of those nights. When an officer reports a DUI, the car is called over, helping with roadside sobriety tests, breathalyzers and all of the related paperwork. Each agency reports enforcement statistics to the state at the end of enforcement periods.
Chief Mark Heminghous with the Dillon Police Department said the DUI car helps keep officers from getting tied up with paperwork while working a shift.
“Then it doesn’t pull people away from their normal police duties to go do that DUI case,” he said.
The LEAF grant was created in 1983, in response to an overwhelming number of DUIs and alcohol-related fatalities, according to Leslie Chase, high-visibility enforcement coordinator for CDOT. That year, the state reported more than 400 alcohol-related fatalities, with close to 42,000 DUI arrests in 1982. Chase said that following the program, the number of arrests has nearly halved, at 25,000 arrests in 2014.
“It’s designed to put itself out of business,” said Glenn Davis, manager of impaired driving programs.
With each DUI arrest, an initial $90 fee is charged. $75 of that sum is split between the Colorado Department of Health, the Colorado Department of Human Services and the LEAF grant pool, with the majority of the funds going to the Department of Health.
“We mostly buy time for officers to go out and do impaired driving enforcement,” Davis said.
To receive the grant, agencies must send in an application every year, with a budget and identifying issues in the county. Chase said that CDOT gave out a maximum of $40,000 per agency, depending on both needs and interest.
The funding runs from July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, and requires quarterly reports on the part of each department, with one final report at the end of the year.
Silverthorne police chief Mark Hanschmidt said the department put in a more conservative request for funds this year, about 260 hours of extra enforcement. He added that the department has still seen officers spend a lot of time working under the LEAF grant over the past few weeks.
“Sometimes, people don’t really think about the consequences,” Hanschmidt said. “Unfortunately, what we see too often is that when people are here enjoying Summit County on vacation, they don’t really think about that.”
The average BAC level for the county is a .159, according to 259 DUI charges filed in 2014.
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