Several Lake County police departments wrote so many traffic tickets last year the state is putting an $18,000 wager down that they can step up enforcement to an even higher level.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute has awarded the Hammond Police Department a $10,000 grant and the Lake Station Police Department an $8,000 grant to buy electronic equipment to boost their performance in traffic enforcement, Hammond Police Lt. Patrick Vicari said.
Vicari said Hammond will use its grant to equip at least one patrol car with a laptop computers, a laptop stand, an in-car video system and a laser system that improves on the older radar speed detection devices now used. Lake Station police also will equip its patrol cars, a department spokesman said.
The institute recently recognized the Hammond and Lake Station police departments as best in the state for traffic safety in 2013, Vicari said.
He said the two departments participate in the state's Operation Pullover program as does the Lake County Drunk Driving Task Force, which also was recognized as best in state.
Operation Pullover encourages police to intensify their enforcement of laws requiring the use of seat belts and child restraints and stopping aggressive and drunken driving particularly during popular holidays, such as St. Patrick's Day, Labor Day and Thanksgiving Day.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute states in its 2013 annual report that police across the state issued 71,993 seat belt citations, 2,637 child restraint citations, made 6,131 misdemeanor and 852 felony drunken driving arrests and issued 9,893 citations for people driving on suspended licenses and 59,872 citations for speeding.
Traffic fatalities have declined by 20 percent since 2004. There were 758 in 2013.