Police hope overtime grant will help make streets safer

TUPELO – A grant will provide extra police protection in the coming months.
A $31,528 grant through the Mississippi Department of Public Safety will pay overtime for Tupelo police officers to set up safety checkpoints in an attempt to get drunken drivers off the streets.
The grant doesn’t require matching funds, so it’s free money for the department.
Police Chief Tony Carleton said now that with prom season at hand, the grant couldn’t have come at a better time.
“Our goal is to make sure everyone on the streets of Tupelo are as safe as possible and making sure drunk drivers aren’t riding around is a way for us to do that,” said Carleton. “This grant allows us to really be able to utilize our officers to help to do that without costing the city any extra money for overtime.”
Tonight more people are expected out for Tupelo High School’s prom. Carleton said he doesn’t want it ruined by drunken drivers.
“There will be a lot of teenagers out enjoying themselves and we just want them to do it safely and responsibly,” said Carleton. “Our officers will be out making sure that happens.”
Detective Rob Edwards will help to set up the safety checkpoints. Edwards said the grant allows officers to be proactive and reactive to drunken drivers.
“Anytime you can get drunk drivers off the road it’s great for everyone,” said Edwards. “When people know police will be out looking for drunk drivers they are less likely to get behind the wheel. So if we change one person’s mind about drinking and driving we have done our jobs.”
About $24,000 of the money will be used for actual overtime pay, $2,000 to purchase DUI breathalyzer tests and about $5,000 will go toward anti-DUI promotions such as T-shirts and pins.
The grant has to be used by Sept. 1, so Edwards said safety checkpoints could become more prevalent over the next few months. As a part of the grant, the department must run DUI blitzes around key traveling holidays like Memorial Day and Labor Day.

Danza Johnson/NEMS Daily Journal