Local agencies get highway safety grants
— The Elkton Police Department and the Cecil County Sheriff’s Office are among more than 80 agencies and organizations in Maryland that are receiving a portion of over $12.5 million in federal highway safety grants, with CCSO and EPD each allotted $14,000 of the money, Gov. Larry Hogan announced Monday.
In addition, Maryland State Police is receiving $3.1 million of the federal funding.
The federal funding, which is given to agencies and organizations statewide each year, is earmarked to “strengthen and expand the state’s efforts to save lives on Maryland roads,” a spokesman for the Office of the Governor said. The funds will be distributed by the Maryland Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Office to law enforcement agencies and traffic safety advocates throughout Maryland, he added.
EPD officials plan to use their department’s $14,000 in federal funding to cover overtime pay to officers assigned to special saturation patrols aimed solely at curbing drunken driving and aggressive driving, according to Capt. Joseph Zurolo, an agency spokesman. While shift officers are handling their regular patrol duties, the saturation patrol officers will focus only on drivers who are drunk, impaired or aggressive, he said.
“We will use ours for extra patrols on overtime assignments. They will be totally focused on aggressive and drunken drivers. We will do this at certain designated times,” Zurolo said, not-
ing that it’s possible EPD would work some of its special traffic details during holidays and events in which citizens are more apt to consume alcohol, such as New Year’s Eve and Super Bowl Sunday, which is when other agencies have conducted them.
The federal grant awards, which are allocated based on crash data for each county and, or, organizations that applied for funding, can be used only for traffic safety activities, the governor’s spokesman reported. Funds can be spent only during federal fiscal year 2017, which runs from Oct. 1 through Sept. 30, 2017, he explained.
They are widely varied in amounts, with $1,000 in federal funding going to the Manchester Police Department and $3.1 million going to MSP.
The federal funding will have several traffic-safety efforts, the governor’s spokesman said. The list includes funding child passenger safety fitting stations, improving Maryland’s traffic data system, funding traffic safety-related law enforcement operations, strengthening and expanding the state’s efforts to save lives on Maryland roads and increasing motorcyclist, pedestrian and bicyclist safety efforts, he added.
While announcing the distribution of the $12.5 million in federal funds, Hogan commented, “The safety and security of Marylanders is our top priority and this vital funding will help strengthen our efforts to reduce traffic fatalities and save lives. Dangerous, impaired, and distracted driving puts everyone at risk, and we will continue to do everything in our power to ensure safety on our roads.”