The Boone County Sheriff’s Department grew Saturday, adding a new traffic unit.
“Traffic compliance complaints are one of the highest complaints this agency receives,” Maj. Tom Reddin said. “For years, we have been trying to get a traffic unit off the ground.”
The new unit, headed by traffic unit Sgt. Scott Ewing, will be staffed by two newly hired traffic officers, bringing the total number of enforcement officers at the department to 42. Reddin said the traffic unit officers will be trained in crash investigation and reconstruction, DWI checkpoints, Operation Slowdown, a program that creates special speed enforcement days, and other traffic-related areas.
Traffic unit officers will patrol the 685 square miles of Boone County, but they will focus on areas where the department receives the highest number of traffic complaints, Reddin said. Those areas include El Chaparral Avenue and Scott Boulevard, where 7-year-old Patrick Knedler was killed Sept. 10.
The new unit is funded by a three-year grant of about $166,000 from the Missouri Department of Transportation’s Highway Safety Division, which administers federal funds to be used for behavioral highway safety programs, according to the Transportation Department’s Web site. The grant will completely fund the salaries of the new traffic officers and equipment for the unit for the first year, 75 percent of the officers’ salaries in the second year and 50 percent of their salaries for the third year, Ewing said. After the third year, the unit will be funded by either Proposition L, a one-eighth-cent sales tax that supports county law enforcement, or Boone County’s general revenue fund, Reddin said.
The Sheriff’s Department issued 2,351 traffic summonses in the first eight months of this year, compared to 2,736 traffic summonses in 2004, Reddin said.