News: Menlo Park Police Department Receives Grant for Traffic Safety

Photo Credit: Annalise Deal

A Menlo-Park Police car stops by a cross walk to ensure pedestrian safety.

On October 15th, the Menlo Park Police Department received a year-long grant to help enforce road safety measures. The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) funded the grant through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The grant will augment the department’s patrolling and support new services and equipment.

Similar to a grant that the department received from October to June a few years ago, the one initiated last month will support a year-long program “aimed at preventing deaths and injuries on our roadways through special enforcement and public awareness efforts,” as stated by the Menlo Park Police Media Information Release.

The Media Information Release also mentioned the rise in traffic deaths: between 2006 and 2010, they were reduced by 39%, however in 2011 they rose by 2.6%. The police hope that the grant will aid their ability to reduce the number of people injured and killed in traffic collisions. The grant focuses on lowering cases of individuals driving under the influence (DUI), the leading cause of accidents.

Menlo Park Police Chief Bob Jonsen said in the Media Information Release that the new grant “will assist [the police department] in making the road safer for our residents and visitors.”

According to commander Dave Bertini, the money will be divided between purchasing new equipment and funding overtime special operations. About $1,700 goes to new equipment and most of the rest of it goes to funding the overtime special operations.

Specifically, the grant will allow the police to buy speed measuring (radar lasers) and alcohol screening devices (replacement PAS breathalyzer). It will also fund the enforcement of laws regarding motorcyclists, distracted drivers, seat belts, child safety seats, speeding, red lights and stop signs.

Some of these enforcements will come from special operations, including decoy cross walk police officers. This is where police officers cross a busy street at an intersect and if they must speed up or slow down to avoid a car, the car will get a ticket. It will also provide money for DUI patrolling and training.

So far, the grant has resulted in more citations. Bertini expects the grant to provide much more awareness and safety based on previous projects. One of these is the “Click it or Ticket,” a movement that most people have heard of, intended to make people wear seat belts. Bertini reports that due to this movement alone, 96% of people now wear their seat belts. The officers hope to see similar results with this new grant and distracted drivers.