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By Chris Frost
Oxnard-- The Community Services, Public Safety, Housing & Development Committee, April 27, approved the Office of Traffic Safety, Selective Traffic Enforcement Grant.
The requested amount of the grant, $478,019, will fund 12 DUI Checkpoints, 30 DUI Enforcement Operations, 18 traffic enforcement operations, 10 bike, and pedestrian enforcement operations, eight distracted driver operations, six motorcycle safety enforcement operations, four traffic safety educational presentations, four Know Your Limit Campaigns, and training for an additional 20 officers on DUI/DUI-D investigations.
Oxnard Police Department Commander Alex Arnett presented the item to the committee, and he said the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (S.T.E.P.) provides law enforcement agencies grant funding to reduce the number of persons injured or killed in traffic collisions involving alcohol, drugs, or other primary collision factors.
"The focus of the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, or S.T.E.P. Grant, is on education and enforcement," he said. "With the education component of the S.T.E.P. Grant, our traffic officers, in partnership with school resource officers, will provide pedestrian bicycle safety presentations at our local schools. The Start Smart Teen Safety Driver Program is a course that is offered to soon-to-be or newly-licensed teenage drivers and their parents. The goal of the class is to educate them on the many responsibilities that come with being a licensed driver in California."
The department will continue participating in the Know Your Limit Impaired Driver Education Campaign, which it has participated in since 2017.
"Our traffic officers have developed partnerships with local bars and restaurants," he said. "The officers speak with patrons of these establishments and educate them on how little it takes to reach the legal limit for blood, alcohol content, and how alcohol impacts one's ability to drive and the consequences of a D.U.I."
Much of the public has seen the department's half taxi, half police car, he said, and it reminds drivers to choose wisely.
"If you decide to drink, choose a designated driver or find a safe alternative method of getting home," Arnett said. "The traffic unit will also conduct a variety of other traffic presentations, with the goal of educating community members on other important topics, such as distracted driving, D.U.I., speed and the importance of wearing safety belts, and child passenger safety."
The department will continue focusing on D.U.I. enforcement and impaired drivers with the enforcement part of the S.T.E.P. Grant.
"We will conduct enforcement in high collision areas of the city that focus on primary collision factors that often result in collisions," he said. "That includes speeding, running red lights, or stop signs, unsafe turning movements, and distracted driving enforcement, which includes talking on your cell phone or texting while driving."
He said being an attentive driver in 2021 is more critical today than ever before.
"We will enforce pedestrian bicycle and motorcycle violations," he said. "This includes pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists that commit traffic violations, as well as motorists that commit traffic violations that put pedestrians, bicyclists, or motorcyclists in harm's way. We will also continue to focus on seatbelt compliance for drivers and passengers."
After the presentation, Mayor Pro Tem Bryan MacDonald said there is no matching funds needed on behalf of the city.
"This is money they're going to give us with no strings attached to it," he said. "The staff I reached out to, I asked them a couple of questions. Why is this coming to us, and that because it's the system we currently have in place. OTS does require a council resolution to accept the grant money."
City Manager Alex Nguyen listened to a suggestion from MacDonald that the grant should be administrative only and go directly to the council, and he thought it was a good idea.
"That would be great and speed up the process," Nguyen said. "When there is no local match, I think it's fine to put it on a consent agenda."
During public comments, Pat Brown said the city has a bad traffic problem in downtown Oxnard.
"That goes from the Third Street bridge all the way to Wooley Road on Oxnard Boulevard," she said. "We have big trucks, and did you know the truck trailers are much bigger than they were 10 years ago. Unfortunately, people who work who are the voters are not out there seeing this. The trucks don't need to be going up and down Oxnard Boulevard. They should be coming in from the freeway and going down Rice Avenue or Del Norte."
The item passed unanimously.