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MADD recognizes 2 SCV sheriff's deputies

Posted: March 26, 2010 4:26 p.m.
Updated: March 26, 2010 4:10 p.m.
The Los Angeles regional branch of Mothers Against Drunk Drivers held its 2010 awards ceremony on Thursday, and two Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station deputies were recognized for their contribution to keeping drunk drivers off of the roadways in the SCV.

Deputies Deanna Santino and Christopher Morgan received awards for their efforts in enforcing drunk driving related laws throughout the Santa Clarita Valley in 2009.

"It is the proactive efforts of these deputies that keep our local roadways safe," said Captain Paul Becker of the Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station. "We have no way of knowing how many lives these two deputies saved in 2009 with their aggressive enforcement efforts, but what we do know is that there was not one DUI-related traffic collision involving a fatality in the city of Santa Clarita and that's outstanding."

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Traffic Unit consists of one sergeant, two investigators, one secretary and numerous field deputies. The unit investigates all traffic collisions and enforces all laws of the California Vehicle Code within the 52 square-miles of the city of Santa Clarita.

In 2009, the community services officer issued 4,582 parking citations and towed more than 500 vehicles, primarily in response to public requests and complaints. She also issued 3,636 parking warnings. The unit has one operations assistant who manages the automated red light camera enforcement systems.

The primary goal of deputies assigned to the Traffic Unit is to reduce, minimize or eliminate property damage, injuries and fatalities resulting from traffic collisions. Utilizing enforcement efforts, education and even driving under the influence (DUI) checkpoint operations, the deputies are able to keep the streets of Santa Clarita safe for the thousands of motorists who traverse them daily.

At the scene of a traffic collision, traffic deputies are responsible for providing first aid to victims, providing traffic control and securing evidence. They then conduct a thorough field investigation of each collision and submit a detailed report outlining accident and causal factors.

The traffic deputies' patrol vehicles are equipped with a number of technological features that aid them in enforcement and investigations. Radar and lidar speed enforcement devices are just some of the tools the deputies utilize.

The station currently has 21 radar units and 12 lidar lasers to assist in speed enforcement. Deputies also deploy 16 pre-alcohol screening (PAS) devices to assist in identifying drunk drivers. We have two hybrid radio cars used to identify unsafe drivers along with a Toyota Tundra and trailer utilized for traffic investigations and DUI checkpoints.

Traffic deputies also utilize specialized equipment to investigate, reconstruct and document serious or fatal traffic collisions. Expert traffic investigators are available for the most complex accident scenes.

Directed and localized traffic-enforcement measures are implemented in those areas of the community that have shown a higher propensity for accidents. Deputies also conduct traffic enforcement based on requests from community members.

The Santa Clarita Valley Sheriff's Station is one of the only stations offering online service requests pertaining to illegally parked or abandoned vehicles and traffic enforcement.

In 2009, the Traffic Unit investigated 1,769 total collisions in the city of Santa Clarita. Unfortunately, four of those collisions resulted in fatalities.

Funding for DUI enforcement and prevention programs was provided by a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The purpose of the checkpoints is to educate the community on the hazards of drunk driving while enforcing DUI laws of the state of California. The checkpoints are an ongoing effort to safely remove drunk drivers from our streets.

Other programs funded through the California Office of Traffic Safety, such as the Click It or Ticket campaign, aim at saving lives by enforcing seat-belt laws. The campaign relies on heavy enforcement and public education as a means to help California achieve 100 percent seat belt use. The state's seat belt use rate for 2009 was 95.7 percent.



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