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Grant beefs up traffic enforcement
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The Turlock Police Department is planning on using a new grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety to put the brakes on accidents and violations.

The department’s traffic enforcement team is expanding their regular enforcement with special operations funded by the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, or S.T.E.P. The grant amount awarded to the TPD is for $128,000, said police spokesman Sgt. Nino Amirfar.

The S.T.E.P. grant is to assist in efforts to deal with traffic safety problems and to reduce the number of persons killed and injured in traffic collisions.  Traffic deaths from all causes declined in 2009 in California by 10.3 percent from 3,434 killed in 2008 to 3,081 in 2009.  The state recorded 950 alcohol-impaired driving fatalities in 2009, a 7.6 percent decline from 1,025 in 2008.  However, DUI deaths remain at 31 percent of fatalities. “Everyone in California should be heartened with these figures,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “But as encouraging as this is, we can’t let up on the efforts to encourage and enforce traffic safety. Thousands are still losing their lives or being severely injured on our roadways.”Amirfar said the grant will specifically help the department target motorcycle safety, DUI offenders, drivers with suspended or revoked licenses, speeding, and red light running.  The traffic division expects to conduct more DUI/driver’s license checkpoints, special enforcement operations, and court stings.The grant also provides funding for traffic officer safety equipment, new crime/collision trend tracking software and overtime to conduct special enforcement activities. “Our mission is to prevent collision related deaths and injuries,” said Turlock Police Traffic Safety Unit Supervisor Sgt. Neil Cervenka. “This grant from OTS will greatly benefit us in carrying out that mission and enhancing the safety of those that use Turlock roadways.”Additionally, the grant pays for two special Motorcycle Safety Enforcement Operations. Motorcycle fatalities have finally turned and dropped in California, following a decade rise in deaths, Amirfar said. In 2009, 393 motorcyclist were killed, a 29 percent drop from 2008 statistics.Turlock Police Officers will be conducting specialized enforcement efforts throughout the course of the next year. Extra officers will be on duty patrolling areas frequented by motorcycles. Officers will be cracking down on traffic violations made by motorcyclists, and other vehicle drivers, Amirfar said.To contact Sabra Stafford, e-mail or call 634-9141 ext. 2002.