points

Checkpoints net citations, arrests

The coalition of law enforcement officers who conducted numerous traffic safety checkpoints in Shawnee, Tecumseh and areas of McLoud Friday were pleased to find many people were buckled up, but they also discovered many driving without insurance and a few without valid driver licenses.
Shawnee Police Chief Russell Frantz said officers from many agencies worked together as part of the coalition’s efforts, and there was great cooperation and camaraderie.
One the larger checkpoints was held between 6 p.m. and 7 p.m. on U.S. 177 and Benson Park Road, an intersection where officers have worked many accidents throughout the years.
Traffic was backed up for a time there as law enforcement officers checked 422 vehicles. Officers found 14 had expired tags and six drivers failed to have insurance on their vehicle, while three didn’t have their verification forms. Four people were driving without a valid driver license and one was driving with a suspended license.
Overall, Tecumseh Police Chief Gary Crosby said the checkpoints were a success because most people were buckled up. Whether the motorists were already buckled up or did so just before approaching the front of the checkpoint, he hopes motorists will continue to use seat belts for safety.
Crosby said there was a great camaraderie of all the departments working together. Most of the problems they found were those driving without insurance and driver licenses.
Despite a few motorists that didn’t like the road blocks, Crosby said he was “touched” to find that many drivers appreciated what the officers were doing to make the roadways safer for all drivers.
“So many were telling me ‘Thank you, Thank you,’” Crosby said.
The coalition also worked a checkpoint at Gordon Cooper Drive and Bob Crouch, where 215 vehicles were checked. One driver was not wearing a seat belt and six vehicles had expired tags.
Earlier in the day, the coalition worked checkpoints at Bryan and Independence, SH 3 and SH 9A, 45th and Union and Bethel and Hardesty Road.
At Bryan and Independence, police checked 184 vehicles, where they found 14 drivers had no insurance. There was only one seat belt violation there. At SH 3 and SH 9A, officers checked 336 cars, where they found 23 drivers without insurance, two who had expired tags and two arrests were made for people driving under suspension.
At 45th and Union, police found 15 without insurance, two with expired tags and one who was driving under suspension. They also made two arrests for marijuana.
McLoud Police Lt. Tim Boyd agreed the multi-agency approach went well. And while they found many who didn’t have insurance, Boyd said most drivers seemed to be cooperative with driver licenses and insurance forms in hand, ready for officers to check them.
And while the main reason officers conducted the event was for safety, police also noticed some with tag or driver license renewals coming soon, so Boyd said they issued friendly reminders.
The checkpoint on McLoud Road at Interstate 40 about 11 p.m. Friday night netted six arrests.
Of those, one was for a firearm charge, one driver had an Oklahoma County arrest warrant and three were for drug charges.
The coalition was formed in hopes of curtailing traffic crashes. Officers were hoping the high-visibility enforcement reminded drivers to slow down, buckle up and to pay attention when behind the wheel.
Frantz said the coalition hopes to conduct future efforts when possible. The Shawnee Police Department, on behalf of the coalition, also is applying for grants that would help pay officers overtime to conduct similar events.
Because Pottawatomie County had the fourth highest fatality rate during the 2009 calendar year, the local coalition of agencies wants to do everything possible to lower that number, and the checkpoints are part of that plan.
“The basis is to raise safety awareness,” Frantz said.