By Brooke Curley
THATCHER – The grants are in, and the boys in blue will be on the beat once more to patrol this holiday season with extra funds for overtime.
In a recent press release, the Thatcher Police Department disclosed it was the recipient of government grants. Thatcher officer Brian Ellsworth, Eastern Arizona DUI Taskforce coordinator, told Gila Valley Central that the grants were awarded to aid in the overtime used by the police officers during the high traffic and traveling time of the holidays. Ellsworth said this is roughly the third or fourth year Thatcher received the grant.
“We don’t rely on it, but it is nice when we do get it,” Ellsworth said. “Because the majority of the money goes toward overtime for DUI enforcement. Have you noticed how the holidays, every major holiday, there’s a bunch of police officers out working? So, what happens is the governor’s office sends out money – Safford gets a grant, Graham County gets a grant – together all the police officers in this area, the four agencies, we form what’s called the Eastern Arizona DUI Taskforce. The governor’s office requires – for part of the conditions of getting these grants – we have to do holiday deployments. So, the money for the DUI grant is used mostly for overtime for those deployments.”
The police deploy on the same days, flooding the streets with a DUI enforcement detail. Ellsworth said the officers are try to use their numbers as a deterrent for drunk drivers. While on the way to the bar, Ellsworth said hopefully drivers will see the increased amount of police personnel on the street, and be reminded to get a designated driver.
“What we do it is what we call saturation patrol where you try to get as many officers out on the streets as you can,” Ellsworth said. “That’s when we go out and try to make traffic stops to hopefully deter or locate and arrest drunk drivers.”
The rest of the grants go toward education in the schools, such as DUI education and driver’s education. By using grant money, police officers are given the opportunity to go to schools and lecture. Children are also invited out to an obstacle course where they are given drunk goggles to wear while attempting to drive a golf cart through a course of cones.
In a press release, Thatcher Police Chief Shaffen Woods said the Thatcher police department received two grants.
“The Thatcher Police Department has received two grants in the amount of $20,000.00 from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for the federal fiscal year 2017,” Woods said. “The first grant in the amount of $10,000 will be used to fund officers’ 0vertime and employee-related expenses to enhance DUI enforcement and education throughout the town of Thatcher. The second grant in the amount of $10,000 will be used for officers overtime and employee-related expenses to enhance selective traffic enforcement and education throughout the town of Thatcher. ”