GALVESTON, Texas – City leaders in Galveston are looking to crack down on drunk driving after a string of deadly crashes on the island.
On Thursday, city council members approved an almost $50,000 grant from the Texas Department of Transportation that will provide more resources for officers and help crack down on unsafe, impaired, and distracted drivers.
It’s called the Selected Traffic Enforcement Program or STEP.
”We already have manpower, and we already have officers working extra duty hours. What this grant will do is pay for those extra duty hours,” Chief Doug Balli said.
Last week, a 14-year-old was killed in a crash involving a suspected drunk driver. In August, four people were killed after an accused drunk driver slammed into their golf cart.
“I’ve been with the police department since 1994, and I don’t know if I can recall a tougher four-week period in regard to traffic-related fatalities. It really has been tragic, and this hits the Galveston Police Department right in our heart,” Balli said.
Balli says the department implemented its Traffic Safety Unit in August to operate 24/7 and officers have already made 55 DWI arrests.
“I think that it is so important now as we move forward with this push to make our streets as safe as they possibly can be,” he said.
Under STEP, officers will target highly traveled areas which include Broadway, IH-45, the Causeway, Seawall Blvd, FM 3005, and school zones. The Chief says the grant will focus on DWI, speed, occupant protection, intersection traffic control, and distracted driving. “Seatbelts, speeding, all the things that lead to traffic-related fatalities,” he said.
Mayor Craig Brown says this is an annual grant for the city and the police department. “As many cities do, we have concerns with drivers under the influence having accidents. We’ve had 3 fatal accidents in a short time period in Galveston. In response to that, we have a DWI task force, we have more officers that will be devoted to traffic enforcement, and we’ve got to do everything we can to not only keep our residents safe but our visitors safe,” he said.
Brown says he is still collecting information and input from businesses about the city’s golf cart ordinance.
City leaders will discuss the measure at the meeting on Sept. 15.