Harrison County police agencies will be stepping up DUI enforcement with help from a $15,000 grant from the West Virginia Commission on Drunk Driving.
Clarksburg and Bridgeport collaborated on the grant application. The Bridgeport, Clarksburg, Nutter Fort and Shinnston police departments, as well as the Harrison County Sheriff's Department, will contribute officers to a multi-jurisdictional DUI task force, said Capt. John Fuscaldo of the Clarksburg Police.
The program will include a public awareness program, saturation patrols and checkpoints that will be announced at a future date. Clarksburg Police will begin patrols this weekend, Fuscaldo said.
The sheriff's department began stepped-up DUI patrols last weekend. Part of the grant will be used to pay overtime for officers who are specifically detailed for DUI patrols, said Chief Deputy Gary Wine.
"The task force has begun a summer-long campaign, and our department works continually and wholeheartedly to catch drunk drivers," Wine said. "Deputy Pat McCarty leads the county in DUI arrests, and we have several other officers who contribute greatly to the effort to fight drunk driving."
Wine also said Fuscaldo is a great help to the program through grant writing.
"Since he was promoted to captain, he has been very active in grant writing," Wine said. "He's not only an asset to the Clarksburg Police Department, but the entire county."
Fuscaldo and Wine both noted the county received less for the program than in past years, which Fuscaldo attributed to heavy demand by police departments throughout the state. However, Fuscaldo added the money will help local police improve public safety.
"We'll tell the public we'll be out there and hopefully that will deter some people. But there are some people who will drink and drive no matter what you tell them," Fuscaldo said. "The ultimate goal of the patrols and checkpoints is to catch drunk drivers before they become involved in crashes."
Fuscaldo added he believes the checkpoints will be a particularly effective deterrent for people in the 18-24 age range, who have the highest percentage of fatalities.
"Alcohol is often involved in those fatalities. Teen-agers are more afraid of checkpoints than saturation patrols and they help keep them from drinking and driving," he said. "That's good because young people are killed on the highway in significant numbers."
Staff writer Shawn Gainer can be reached at 626-1442.