Fatality drop tied to enforcement

December 18, 2018

KANKAKEE — Kankakee County Sheriff Mike Downey said earlier this month there have been nine fatal accidents this year, compared with 19 the year before.

He attributes this drop to an increase in traffic enforcement.

This year, sheriff’s deputies issued more than 2,500 citations and warnings, or seven per day on average. That’s up from the slightly more than 1,600 citations the previous year, Downey said.

“There is a correlation with increased traffic enforcement and traffic safety,” Downey told the County Board’s criminal justice committee. “The credit goes to our deputies who are out there every day writing tickets. That is slowing people down.”

Downey said many people believe writing tickets is about revenue for the government.

“It’s more of a safety issue for us and for the community,” he said.

On another front, Downey said a change in handling of DUIs is having a good effect.

In November, Kankakee County State’s Attorney Jim Rowe announced a trial run of a program in which officers can get warrants for blood samples from drivers who refuse to submit to breath tests.

The program is being applied to the sheriff’s department and the police departments in Bradley, Bourbonnais and Manteno.

Under the No Refusal DUI program, if a suspected drunk driver refuses to give a breath alcohol sample, officers can obtain an electronic warrant from a judge ordering a blood sample to be drawn at the hospital.

A suspect who resists medical staff’s efforts to draw blood could face a felony charge for obstructing justice.

“It’s worked out very well,” Downey said. “Once people know they can’t refuse to blow, that will change a lot of people’s minds and alter decision-making.”

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