Monday, April 22, 2024

NCDOT awards nearly $500K to tri-county law enforcement

Pender County Sheriff’s Office was one of four local law enforcement agencies to receive grant funding from the NCDOT’s N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program. (Port City Daily/file)

SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Law enforcement offices in the tri-county region were awarded half-a-million dollars from the state for local transportation safety initiatives.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office, Wilmington Police Department, Brunswick County Sheriff’s Office and Pender County Sheriff’s Office were awarded funds from North Carolina Department of Transportation’s N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program.

In total, $23 million was distributed statewide to pay for initiatives that address impaired driving, bicycle and pedestrian safety, and traffic safety improvements.

The New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office was awarded a forensic grant to continue paying a lab technician, plus covering the cost of supplies and training. The $102,667 will assist the forensics lab with analysis of casework submitted by partner agencies.

The county will also receive $82,200 to expand its Street Safe Lifesaving Driving Experience program, created to educate teens and young drivers on safe driving practices. New Hanover will use the grant to expand its Street Safe and Alcohol Education Sessions to the Hispanic community by funding bilingual instructors and material.

“A lack of bilingual officers, first responders, court workers, and general office
assistance makes it very difficult for Spanish-speaking individuals to take
advantage of the sessions,” an NCDOT breakdown of grant funding states.

The Wilmington Police Department also will earn funds; $26,200 will cover overtime pay for officers to work high-visibility traffic enforcement with a focus on seatbelt wearing and speeding. New Hanover County is ranked 21st overall in vehicle fatalities, 41st for unrestrained deaths and 17th for speeding-related deaths.

Over in Brunswick County, the sheriff’s office will receive two grants. One is for $271,635 allocated to its traffic safety project; the money will cover three deputies to work high-visibility enforcement with a focus on seatbelts and speeding. The county, ranked 19th overall in fatalities, is 12th for unrestrained deaths and 24th for speeding-related deaths.

Brunswick County will also receive $30,000 for its law enforcement liaison, which works with county coordinators to continue traffic campaigns.

Pender County Sheriff’s Office is being awarded $135,132 toward funding traffic and safety positions. The money will cover two deputies continued efforts conducting traffic safety enforcement. The county is ranked 28th overall in fatalities, 24th in alcohol-related deaths and 25th for unrestrained fatalities.

Money doled out to law enforcement, nonprofits and research centers is meant as seed money to jumpstart new traffic safety programs as well as continue others. The grantee provides a portion of the cost and is expected to continue the program after grant funding ends.

“Everyone has a right to travel safely on North Carolina’s roads,” director of the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program Mark Ezzell said in a press release. “These grants will help communities throughout the state ensure safe transportation for all of our citizens.”

Next year’s round of grant funding opportunities will open in January for an October 2024 award timeframe.


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