Columbia police to step up enforcement in school zones

Tuesday, August 14, 2012 | 7:01 p.m. CDT; updated 9:41 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, August 14, 2012

COLUMBIA — An $8,000 grant from the Missouri Division of Highway Safety will allow the Columbia Police Department to increase its presence in school zones from Thursday through Aug. 31.

Sgt. Curtis Perkins said the extra enforcement is not a response to a specific schools reporting problems. Rather, he said, it's an effort to make police more visible and to show that they "are serious about enforcing school zone speed limits."

The school zone speed limit in Columbia is 20 mph.

"We want to be proactive about the situation," Perkins said. "There are a lot of students who will be going to school for the first time."

Because of the lack of experience elementary school students have using crosswalks, police will primarily be concerned with elementary schools.

Since school zone speed limits don't apply during Columbia Public Schools' summer break, police intend their presence to remind motorists and students that the 20 mph limit will be in effect starting Thursday.

Perkins said he anticipates up to five additional officers on duty each day for the final two weeks of August. The state's grant allows officers to be compensated once they sign up for an overtime shift.

"It could be an officer who is on the third shift who wants to stay on and pick up some overtime," said Sgt. Jill Schlude, a spokeswoman for the police department. Officers also can sign up for afternoon shifts.

Both Perkins and Schlude said the grant will also be used to enforce speed limits on Interstate 70 and Highway 63, and to watch for other violations that could factor into car crashes.

Supervising editor is Scott Swafford.

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