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Road To Safety Cleared Grants Buy Beefed-Up Enforcement To Focus On Dubious Accident Record

State grants awarded to the Kootenai County sheriff’s office and Post Falls Police Department will allow officers to focus on traffic enforcement.

Two sheriff’s deputies will be assigned full-time to traffic enforcement, watching for drunken drivers, reckless drivers and motorists who are not wearing seat belts, Sgt. Al March said Wednesday.

Money from the $130,000 grant also will equip three Kootenai County patrol cars with video cameras that will record radar gun readings on footage of traffic stops.

A separate $29,200 grant will allow a Post Falls officer to be designated to patrol for drunken drivers and seat belt violators, said Sgt. Scot Haug. No equipment will be purchased with the money.

Increases in the number of accidents prompted both departments to seek money from the state Office of Highway Safety.

Post Falls has ranked first in the state among cities its size in alcohol-related accidents the past two years, Haug said. The city also is among the worst in total accidents, he said.

Designating the officers for traffic enforcement will allow them to “take up the slack” created by a steady flow of other calls, such as burglaries, thefts and domestic violence, March said.

The sheriff’s office received a three-year grant that requires a 25 percent match the first year. The state Office of Highway Safety will pay for half of the department’s traffic enforcement emphasis next year and 25 percent the third year, March said.

Sheriff’s deputies Lee Richardson and Mike McFarland have been assigned to the traffic enforcement program. One will work during the day and the other the night shift, March said.

Post Falls officer Bob Lindstrom is expected to work the night shift.

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