Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

Local News

March 12, 2014

Keeping Route 52 safe

Grant program to support overtime for officers patrolling highway

In an effort to promote safer driving along U.S. Route 52, law enforcement is cracking down on speeders and drunk drivers.

Safe and Sober 52, a grant program supported by the West Virginia Governor’s Highway Safety program will allow police officers to work overtime to help patrol U.S. Route 52 in Mercer, McDowell and Wyoming Counties, Highway Safety Region 8 coordinator Dean Capehart said.

“The grant will be paying the officers overtime so that we are able to beef up patrols. They will not be issuing warnings; this is going to be aggressive enforcement. People will hopefully realize that we are serious,” Capehart said.

The program hopes it will help catch people speeding and also drunk drivers, Capehart said.

“Although most of the patrols need to be done in the evening time, we are going to allow officers to work overtime during the day also to help catch those driving recklessly,” Capehart said.

The idea behind the program is to help with problems such as accidents and DUI’s on U.S. Route 52, Capehart said.

The McDowell County Sheriff’s Department is looking forward to getting more officers on the road, Sgt. J. E. Muncy Jr. with the sheriff’s department said.

“This will allow us to get more officers on the road and also cut down on the speeding and drunk driving. Hopefully it will get drunk drivers off the road,” Muncy said.

Sr. Deputy A.M. Ballard with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department said he hopes with these funds from the grant, officers will be able to increase their presence on U.S. Route 52.

“Since we have been receiving the funding we have been patrolling for not only DUI’s but also speeding, seat belts and cell phone usage. We are not trying to bug people, just trying to keep everyone safe. With the additional force, I hope people will just be aware of their surroundings and be cautious not only of speeding, but watch out for people making turns,” Ballard said.

— Contact Anne Elgin at aelgin@bdtonline.com

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