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Fuel prices force Kentucky authorities to alternative enforcement strategies

Fuel prices force Kentucky authorities to alternative enforcement strategies

Posted: Thursday, July 3, 2008 7:00 pm

The rising price of fuel is forcing Kentucky State Police to develop creative enforcement strategies that will offset the impact gas prices are having on the agency’s budget. KSP Commissioner Rodney Brewer said fuel prices have been difficult on the agency. “When you’re faced with an unexpected rise in costs like we’ve experienced, you have to devise a solution,” Brewer said. “The problem is identifying that solution without changing the level of protection and enforcement currently in place across the Commonwealth.” Last month, the KSP purchased 160,000 gallons of fuel, compared to May 2007 when 170,500 gallons were purchased — the dilemma being that the fuel cost to the agency increased by $132,000 compared to last May for 6 percent less fuel. For this reason, the KSP developed a summer enforcement campaign that will conserve fuel usage while maintaining the enforcement efforts currently provided. Operation Safe CHECK (Concentrated Highway Enforcement Checkpoints in Kentucky) is a new enforcement campaign the KSP will roll out the Fourth of July and which will run through the Labor Day weekend. The campaign will include over 200 road checks statewide during this time period. The KSP will utilize collision data to target specific high-crash locations in each post area where high-visibility checkpoints will be held. Reducing the number of roving patrols while increasing stationary checkpoints will decrease the amount of fuel being expended. Increasing the number of checkpoints will allow the KSP to continue effective enforcement efforts while conserving fuel. Embracing the concept of deterrence through sustained high-visibility enforcement is just one facet of the campaign. The most important goal when establishing a safety checkpoint is to increase public safety. This is accomplished when drivers who could harm innocent citizens are removed from the road. “Regardless of the cost of fuel, you have to provide protection,” Brewer said. “But if there are ways to provide effective law enforcement and save lives while reducing fuel costs, that’s what we’ll try to do.” Capt. Tim Lucas, commander for the KSP Highway Safety Branch, will oversee the summer checkpoint project. “Operation Safe CHECK will remove impaired drivers from the road, but also important are the number of personal contacts made,” Lucas said. “To keep traffic moving, some vehicles are permitted to pass without screening while others are randomly selected for inspection. The drivers who are not stopped for screening are still impacted by the visual exposure of enforcement activity,” he added. Posts will be directed to keep traffic moving smoothly at checkpoint locations to limit delays. In addition to removing impaired drivers from the road, other violations are addressed, such as expired tags, driving without insurance and general vehicle safety operating violations. Checkpoints have also been key in apprehending drivers with suspended licenses and fugitives. Citizens can contribute to highway safety by reporting erratic drivers to the Kentucky State Police toll-free at 1-800-222-5555. Callers will remain anonymous. Published in The Messenger 7.3.08

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