For a third year in a row, the Santa Cruz City Council approved a Santa Cruz Police Department (SCPD) grant on Oct. 13 to fund traffic enforcement efforts. The $85,000 grant — $10,000 more than last year — will be in effect until Sept. 2021.

Chief of Police Andrew Mills filed the funding request, which was later approved for a City Council vote by City Manager Martin Bernal. 

Most of the money will go toward overtime hours for traffic enforcement in school zones during weekdays and downtown areas on weekend evenings. The rest of the grant will fund travel and equipment, including technology for speed enforcement and instruments needed for driving under the influence (DUI) testing.

Over the past two years, promotion of traffic safety awareness increased along with the number of traffic citations. From 2013 to 2017, Santa Cruz was ranked as one of the worst cities in California when it came to cycling and pedestrian injuries caused by traffic accidents. 

According to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS), the main goal of the funding is to prevent future car accidents caused by drunk driving. The state agency believes that increased enforcement is the best path for reducing the amount of fatal accidents that take place on the streets of Santa Cruz. 

“As a city, we know we can do better, and we know that enforcement is a key tool to achieve improved roadway safety,” reads the grant agreement presented to the City Council.

OTS funds police departments across the state, granting almost half a million dollars to the Anaheim Police Department and $250,000 to Alameda County Sheriff’s Office. In the 2020 fiscal year, the state agency gave a total of $35.8 million to police departments and sheriff’s departments. 

According to the grant agreement, the city intends to avoid the discrimination of minority individuals that reside in the city, stating that the grant recipient will “comply with all Federal nondiscrimination laws and regulations, as may be amended from time to time.”