Grant funds Jackson Co. safety checks

By Sylvia Hall - bio | email

JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - Expect to see Jackson County Sheriff's deputies along any Jackson County road, at any time of the day. They'll be checking seatbelts and child restraints, drivers' licenses, and insurance cards, among other things.  They'll also be stopping drunk drivers, and hoping to prevent a tragic, fatal accident.

"When you're out on accidents and you see these fatalities, it's rough," said Valerie Kelly, the Sheriff's Department Grant Coordinator.  "So a lot of them also get out at night to work overtime at these checkpoints, and I know that's why."

This is the third year the department has received federal money to promote public safety. The funding covers overtime pay and equipment, including yellow safety vests, breathalyzers and portable flashing road lights for added safety during stops.

"Since this grant started, we've issued 163 DUIs," said Major Ken Broadus with the Sheriff's Department.

Broadus said that's 163 potential accidents that didn't happen.

Some drivers passing through the checkpoints don't seem to mind the stop.

"I usually have no fear of them because I usually have things in order," said Stephanie Binder.

"I got three baby boys," said Michael Batia.  "I mean, if it'll do something to save their lives or somebody else, it'll be pretty much worth it."

Officers said that at an hour long safety check point Monday morning, they wrote more than 20 citations and made one arrest.  They said evening checkpoints will bring about 150 citations easily. That's also when they stop the most drunk drivers.

"If we get a drunk off the road, it's your child, my child, it's somebody's child, somebody's husband, wife, whatever, saved out there," Kelley said.

Officers said they don't mind spending the extra time at checkpoints, but they ask that people be cautions when they pass through.  Several officers said they're putting themselves in harm's way by conducting the checkpoints.

"Wen you guys come up on a checkpoint, pay attention to what you're doing," asked Broadus.  "Don't go digging into your purse. Don't go looking in the glove compartment, because you're going to roll up on someone, and then we've got a car crash.  So pay attention."

Officials said they have already applied to receive the grant for a fourth time next year.

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