Police Department Wants To Create Traffic Safety Team

A Smithfield police officer runs radar on North Second Street in Smithfield. Police Chief Keith Powell has applied for a state grant that would fund two full-time traffic safety officers for the department beginning in 2018 if funding is approved. JoCoReport.com Photo

Smithfield Police Chief Keith Powell hopes to have a new traffic safety enforcement team in place in 2018.  The idea is to reduce traffic crashes and increase highway safety.

The Smithfield Police Department has applied for a Governors Highway Safety Program grant to create a two officer traffic team within the police force. If approved, the traffic team would start in the Fall of 2018. The grant is for three years.

The grant would cover all salary and equipment expenses including patrol cars, radios, in car cameras, radar and fuel.

The Town would be required to pay 15% of the total cost the first year, 30 percent the second year, and 50 percent of the total cost in the third year or approximately $153,500.

Chief Powell said officers investigated 879 traffic accidents on city streets in 2016 up from 849 in 2015.

“By creating a traffic team the department will not only increase its staffing numbers to assist in times of emergencies, but it will also create additional avenues for officers to work and experience, which will help with turnover rates,” Powell said.

In 2015, former Police Chief Michael Scott applied for a grant to hire 3 officers for a traffic safety team but the grant application was requested in 2016.