REDDING, Calif. - The Redding Police Department received a $315,000 grant which will help fund a new full-time DUI officer.
Every year the Redding Police Department receives funding from the California Office of Traffic Safety, this year the total $350,000. Officer Bryan Cowan has been with the department for sixteen years. He said this is more than they've received in years.
With the grant money this year, the department is able to implement a full-time peace officer to concentrate solely on driving-under-the-influence type of enforcement.
Over the past five years, traffic fatalities have increased in the State of California. 94 percent of those incidences are caused by some sort of unsafe driving, but the largest portion of that unsafe driving is caused by DUI drivers.
"So we really want to focus on, not only on enforcement to stop those vehicles or stop those drivers before an accident occurs, but education to try and prevent that from ever occurring in the future," said Traffic Specialist Officer Bryan Cowan, "We're going to be doing some community presentations to various groups, to not only recognize the symptoms of someone who might be addicted to some sort of substance and getting behind the wheel, but also how to identify a driver that may be driving a vehicle in front of you."
He stated that in these circumstances, call 9-1-1, get the license plate of the vehicle and do not confront these drivers, as their behavior is unpredictable in an alternate state of mind. The Redding police are aiming to partner with more local businesses to prevent people from being over-served.
"They need to stop serving those people. In addition, they need to have a program in place that makes it easy to provide rides home for people," said Officer Cowan when referring to places that serve alcohol. Drivers should know that any person who gets behind the wheel under the influence and causes an accident that ends up taking a person's life is at risk of murder charges and their case will be considered a homicide investigation.
It is illegal to serve alcohol to anyone who is already intoxicated, the department plans on taking action on the issue of over-serving but is happy to know they also have local business support. Whether that be partnering with a tow-truck company or ride sharing Apps like Uber and Lyft, Cowan says there are other options besides drinking and driving.
Peace Officers are happy to have received the funding for another way they can partner with the community to in a way that they say, will save lives, "To dedicate a full-time police officer to do nothing but looking for DUI drivers. If he can pull one, two DUI offenders off the street a night..that could potentially be hundreds of victims he could save throughout the year."
In addition to the DUI focus, the department plans to be stepping up their enforcement for pedestrian and bicycle violations, which make up twenty-five percent, and a seat belt awareness program.