Police receive DUI enforcement grant

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The Steamboat Springs Police Department received an $18,000 grant to be used to help discourage drunken driving.

Police Sgt. Rich Brown said the Law Enforcement Assistance Fund, or LEAF, grant is awarded to police agencies across the state. The money allows officers to spend time focusing on enforcing driving under the influe-

nce laws.

Brown said the grant will provide enough money for the police department to use officers to work shifts focusing on "running traffic" - looking for impaired drivers. Without the grant, the department wouldn't be able to dedicate additional officers to drunken driving enforcement.

"The challenge we face right now is that officers aren't able to focus solely on traffic without being dispatched to other calls," he said. "This grant will allow us to specifically spend time looking for impaired drivers."

The LEAF grant is funded through a fee assessed by the state in every driving under the influence conviction.

The police department was not eligible for the grant in 2006 because agencies cannot apply for the grant after receiving it for three consecutive years. The department received the grant in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

As part of the grant, officers likely will work two, five-hour shifts a week through the end of 2007 focusing on traffic control. The department likely will conduct two sobriety checkpoints in conjunction with the Colorado Department of Transportation's summer campaign "Checkpoint Colorado." Officers conduct the checkpoints during the summer months because it is more effective and practical, Brown said.

The department received the LEAF grant on the heels of receiving a $43,000 federal grant to curb underage drinking. The Enforcing Underage Drinking Laws, or EUDL, grant is being administered through April 2008. The grant will be used to send officers to training programs, to enforce the city's liquor laws through compliance checks and additional investigations, and to develop and facilitate alcohol education and awareness programs at Steamboat Springs High School and Colorado Mountain College.

Police Capt. Joel Rae said the two grants have provided the department with more money for alcohol enforcement than the department had received for such efforts in the past 10 years.

"We're going to be out there in force making an impact in this community," he said.

The Routt County Sheriff's Office received a LEAF grant for $10,000, and the Hayden Police Department received one for $5,000.

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