Drivers to notice heavy police presence on Chattanooga roadways - WRCBtv.com | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Drivers to notice heavy police presence on Chattanooga roadways

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) - Drivers beware: if you're breaking the rules of the road, you have a better chance of being pulled over and ticketed now than ever before.

Chattanooga police just got a new $100,000 safety grant from the Governor's Highway Safety Office. And they've already started spending. Ninety-thousand dollars will be spent on officer overtime hours and the additional $10,000 will be set aside for alcohol enforcement equipment like portable breathalyzers.

Police say with this money, they can better focus on alcohol-related charges and reckless driving in general. The operation to save lives and it covers the entire City of Chattanooga.

"It all circles around to people just not driving the way they're supposed to. So we decided to get an aggressive campaign together to combat this," said Sgt. David Gibb.

Traffic Sgt. David Gibb pointed to an "alarming increase" in local traffic deaths. Hamilton County lead the state with the highest crash rate in 2013, according to online traffic data.

Gibb said of the 29 people killed on city roads in 2013, 14 were alcohol-related. And with this grant money, Gibb is taking action.

"Everybody who is involved with alcohol or speed will eventually run across us," he said.

Effective immediately, 24 police officers will be working 4 hour shifts each, cracking down on DUI, open container and underage drinking. Bar checks for minors and over-served patrons is also included in the grant.

"On a Friday, you're going to have two teams of four officers and they'll be assigned a particular zone that might be a problem as we see in our analysis. So they'll saturate that zone and hit that area and look for nothing but the violators that we're targeting," Gibb said.

Booze is a big issue, he said, but not the only one. Speeders, texters and reckless drivers all have a better chance of getting busted now than ever before. Gibb has been implementing the new additions the past two weeks and says they've already written an above-average 300 citations with 6 DUI's. But Gibb said it's not about the tickets, it's about saving lives.

"Don't fear the ticket, fear taking somebody's life," he said. "We're not issuing citations because we want to. We would prefer to come to work and not have one ticket to write. We want everybody to pay attention to the road, don't drink and drive and put the phone down."

The grant means police will be stepping up enforcement through the rest of the year. Gibb said he plans to apply for an extension in October that would carry the grant through 2015.
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