St. Helens police to step up DUII, seatbelt enforcement in August
Police officers in St. Helens will be stepping up seatbelt and driving under the influence enforcement this month.
Throughout August, St. Helens Police Department officers will take part in additional enforcement efforts thanks to funding from the Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division and Oregon Impact.
The funding provides for an officer who has been trained to look for signs of driver impairment to be on patrol in addition to normal patrols throughout the month, a press release from SHPD stated.
St. Helens police Sgt. Jose Castilleja explained that all SHPD officers have received advanced training to recognize the signs of drug and alcohol impairment and have gone through the standardized field sobriety test training, while some have received drug and impaired driving, or DID, training. Others have received more advanced training called ARIDE — Advanced Roadside Impairment Driving Enforcement. At least one SHPD officer has taken Drug Recognition Expert training for the department. DREs will look for physiological indicators, such as blood pressure spikes and muscle tone, when trying to identify impairment as different drugs will present different physical effects.
Typically, SHPD conducts high-visibility patrol campaigns during times of the year when it will be most effective, such as holidays, three-day weekends, the Super Bowl, St. Patrick's Day, Labor Day and other similar events.
"I think it's important for the police department to let the public know that we're going to be out improving safety on the roadways," Castilleja said.
Castilleja added that SHPD wants drivers to be aware of the enforcement campaigns because it could prevent an impaired person from getting behind the wheel in the first place.
"I would much rather have a deterrent and give the public the information so they can make a safer decision," he said.
"We want to give people the info they need, and get them to find another way home," Castilleja added. "It's not about being sneaky or, 'Hey, we got ya.' That's never been what SHPD has been about. We really want to work with our community."
In addition to watching for driver impairment, officers will also be conducting seatbelt enforcement throughout the month.
In Oregon, children must use a child safety seat until they weigh 40 pounds or reach the upper weight limit for the car seat in use. Children over 40 pounds or who have reached the upper weight limit for their forward-facing car seat must use a child seat with a harness or a booster seat until they reach 4'9" tall or age 8.
The National Institute for Highway Safety recommends that children between the ages of 1 and 3 should be kept in rear-facing car seats for as long as possible, until they outgrow the seat's weight limit. Officers at SHPD can check for proper car seat installation.
Seatbelt enforcement campaigns are designed to improve public safety and promote public education, Castilleja explained.
"It's a gentle reminder to wear your seatbelt. You're just upset because you're getting a ticket, but it's better than getting a (death) notice," he said.