Posted: Thursday, April 10th 2014 at 11:57am
Gainesville PD wants HEAT on aggressive city drivers
By Marc Eggers Staff
GAINESVILLE – Gainesville Police Chief Brian Kelly told the Gainesville City Council at their work session Thursday morning that he wants to bring HEAT to the drivers in Gainesville.
HEAT is an acronym for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic, a program that operates under the auspices of the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. Their goal is to reduce the number of crashes in the state by targeting impaired and aggressive drivers.
Kelly asked the Council for consent for his department to apply for a grant administered by the GOHS with funding provided by the National Highway Safety Administration. The $168,868 grant would allow the city to hire one additional officer and pay for specialized HEAT training for that officer plus one officer already on staff.
Those two specialists would then use a third part of the grant: "two fully equipped police vehicles and all operational costs related to those vehicles."
Lieutenant John Robertson, Commander of the Specialized Services Division for the Gainesville Police Department, would oversee the program.
Chief Kelly said that his department had applied for the grant on a prior occasion but was turned down. This time he feels that approval will be more attainable. "As I spoke to you a couple of weeks ago, our crashes are going up…but the injuries are going down. So we feel fairly comfortable…that we’ll be able to give a good application."
"We’re still seeing a lot of the ‘Fail to Yield’, running the stop signs, following too close," Kelly said when asked about aggressive drivers within the city limits.
Lt. Robertson added, "The top crash factor every week consistently for the last two years is following too closely."
"Crashes Monday through Friday is about three times any crashes on Saturday and Sunday," Robertson began to detail.
"When you look at the crash times…pretty much from 7:00 in the morning until 4:30 in the afternoon is about four times the crashes than any other time of the day," Robertson added.
"We’re seeing that a lot of the crashes occur going to work and going to lunch," Kelly explained, "but yet we have less going home. So I guess more people are kind of relaxed going home, but they’re more in a hurry to get to work and to get to lunch."
Kelly said that an application deadline for the GOHS grant was just one week away. "We’ll be looking at October 1 before we know…if we’ll be awarded."
A little HEAT might be coming to Gainesville just in time for the cooling temperatures of autumn.
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