An unusual number of police officers were patrolling South Pasadena streets late Friday night and early Saturday morning looking for drunk drivers.
They caught two, arresting the individuals for driving under the influence (DUI) as part of an enforcement program funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS).
Seven local officers, including one on a motorcycle, drove through South Pasadena streets from 9 p.m. Friday until 3 a.m. Saturday looking for alcohol-impaired drivers. Normally, four police cars from the local department will actively patrol neighborhoods during a shift.
In October 2017, the South Pasadena Police Department received a $70,000 grant from OTS, which delivers innovative programs designed to reduce traffic deaths, injuries on the roadway.
While the weekend assignment was focused on pulling over drunk drivers, the SPPD has also used OTS grant funds on other traffic enforcement issues, including issuing citations to distracted drivers for using cellphones and motorists not stopping for pedestrians [see accompanying story below].
“The different campaigns help us educate drivers about the importance of driving safely,” explained Shannon Robledo, a sergeant with the South Pasadena Police Department. “We want to protect our citizens.”
Friday’s effort placed an emphasis on DUI’s “because it’s summertime and people are out more this time of year,” Robledo explained. “We want people to celebrate, but we want them to celebrate responsibly. We also want to make people aware. If you’re going to go out and drink, there are services like a taxi, Uber and Lyft to get home safely.”
The SPPD completed 20 of 30 OTC assignments it must finish by October when the grant ends. Along with DUI arrests, officers handed out tickets for other traffic infractions during Friday night’s DUI effort in the city.
“Our goal is to keep residents safe as part of this grant program,” stressed Robledo, “and make them aware that their safety is important to us.”
The Office of Traffic Safety has identified the following 10 priority areas of concentration for grant funding. The $70,000 grant issued to the South Pasadena Police Department will help support the following programs and help keep residents safe:
Alcohol-Impaired Driving: The program goal is to reduce deaths and injuries attributable to alcohol-impaired driving. Sobriety checkpoints, public information, and high school education programs are used to impact alcohol-impaired driving.
Distracted Driving: The program goal is to reduce deaths and injuries related to distracted driving. The primary focus is cell phone use while driving. Education, public information, and enforcement are key strategies promoted to reduce cell phone use while driving.
Drug-Impaired Driving: The primary goal is to reduce deaths and injuries attributed to drivers under the influence of legal and illegal drugs. Law enforcement and prosecutors need training to successfully identify, apprehend, and prosecute drug-impaired drivers. Testing Laboratories also need state-of-the-art drug testing equipment.
Occupant Protection: The program goal is to increase compliance with the safety restraint laws including the correct and consistent use of infant and child safety seats.
Pedestrian and Bicycle Safety: The program goal is to increase safety awareness among pedestrians, bicyclists and motorists through various approaches including education, enforcement and engineering.
Traffic Records: The program goal is to establish/improve record systems that aid in identifying existing and emerging traffic safety problems and aid in evaluating program performance. Accurate and current records are needed to support problem identification and to evaluate countermeasure effectiveness.
Emergency Medical Services: The program goal is to ensure that persons involved in motor vehicle collisions receive rapid and appropriate medical treatment through a coordinated system of emergency medical care.
Roadway Safety: The program goal is to improve the roadway and associated environment with a special emphasis on the identification and surveillance of crash locations, traffic control device inventories and other related traffic engineering services.
Police Traffic Services: The program goal is to reduce motor vehicle collisions through selective enforcement, education and deterrence. PTS programs seek to encourage compliance with safety belt use, impaired driving, speed limit and other traffic laws.
Motorcycle Safety: The program goal is to improve motorcycle safety by training and educating motorcycle riders on the effectiveness and need for safety equipment and educating the motoring public on the presence of motorcycles in the traffic environment.
The California Office of Safety contributed to this article.