Columbia renews annual grant for public safety funding

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COLUMBIA - The Columbia City Council will start its first step toward renewing the grants for traffic safety at its regular meeting Monday.

This year, the city would be receiving $115,712.40 from the Missouri Department of Transportation in the form of a grant if approved by the city council.

"The funds help officers fund overtime for officers to come in and do extra traffic enforcement," said Sgt. Curtis Perkins, Columbia Police traffic unit supervisor.

The ordinances that would finalize the grant agreement are for the added enforcement of hazardous moving violations, such as driving too close to another car, drivers wearing seatbelts, and DWI enforcement.

Seven people were killed over the last four years in accidents while not wearing their seatbelts in Columbia according to Missouri Statewide Traffic Accident Records System, or STARS. STARS is the standard reporting website law enforcement must use when accidents occur.

Speeding is also a major concern of the Columbia Police Department.

"One of the things we see in a lot of traffic crashes is speed," Perkins said. "It affects your stopping distance, it affects your reaction time."

STARS reports speed-related crashes accounted for the deaths of nine people in Columbia over the last four years.

"We want to remind everyone when they're out driving to watch your speed, do not use your cell phone while driving, and do not be impaired behind the wheel of a car," Perkins said.

The city council will finalize the grant process over the next few weeks. Once finalized, it would retroactively fund Columbia Police from Oct. 1, 2014 through Sept. 30, 2015.

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