Northland law enforcement agencies to get money to lessen road deathsThe Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced today that $925,000 in federal grants is headed to law enforcement agencies in Northeastern Minnesota to mostly support overtime pay in the continued “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign.
By: News Tribune staff, Duluth News Tribune
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety announced today that $925,000 in federal grants is headed to law enforcement agencies in Northeastern Minnesota to mostly support overtime pay in the continued “Toward Zero Deaths” campaign.
DPS Commissioner Mona Dohman made the announcement at Monaco Air Duluth while flanked by police officers from the region as well as officers from the Minnesota State Patrol.
The campaign is an ongoing effort to reduce the number of deaths in the state in road accidents.
More people in the region and statewide died in vehicle accidents in 2012 than in 2011, something Dohman called “unacceptable.”
Much of the money will go toward extra patrols looking for people driving under the influence, said Donna Berger, the director of the office of traffic safety within the DPS. Seat-belt-compliance initiatives also will be launched.
One third of deadly accidents in the state involve impaired drivers, and St. Louis County annually ranks first or second in its number of incidents. The county ranks high in the deaths of people not wearing seat belts, too. Berger said both of those factors probably are causing deadly accidents to spike despite the nearly decade-long “Toward Zero Deaths” initiative.
In the past decade, more than half of the 485 deaths in the Northland are attributed to not wearing a seat belt.
The grants will go to police agencies in St. Louis, Carlton, Lake, Cook, Koochiching, Itasca, Pine and Aitkin counties.
“We know it’s the same contributing factors,” Berger said of the uptick in crashes. There were 43 road deaths in the region in 2012, up from 39 in 2011. Statewide, deaths in 2013 probably will surpass those in 2012.
“It’s up to each of us to change that trend,” Dohman said.