WHITTIER – The city has received a $364,000 state grant to provide more traffic enforcement police say will help reduce the number of collisions. The money will allow the hiring of another traffic officer during the next two years. It will pay for a new motorcycle as well as an officer’s salary and benefits during the first year and half. The grant will also allow for overtime pay. “It’s great,” Councilman Joe Vinatieri said. “It’s clear that stepped-up enforcement is one way of dealing with the safety issue.” Police are concerned because the annual total of DUI-related collisions has increased by 29 percent, or from 60 collisions in 1998 to 84 in 2006. At the same time, the number of DUI arrests has decreased by 31 percent, or from 323 arrests in 1998 to 220 in 2006. In 2004, driving under the influence was the primary collision factor in 5.6 percent of traffic crashes. “One of the reasons is that we have more drivers on the road, but the average number of officers per 1,000 people hasn’t risen,” said Whittier police Sgt. Dan Lowe. Whittier now has a traffic bureau with a sergeant, four officers – two of whom are on motorcycles – four part-time parking enforcement officers, and a traffic analyst. Although it may take a while to fill the new traffic officer position – the department is still trying to get its patrol division fully staffed – the money also can be used for overtime, Lowe said. “We’re going to go out and saturate an area,” he said. “Instead of one officer out there, you will see three of us,” he said. “It will start sending a message to the public that we’re out in force and to slow down.” In addition, there will be additional red-light and street-racing enforcement as well as DUI checkpoints. If the city doesn’t do more, problems will get worse, Lowe said. “The volume of cars on roads will increase and people will look for roads less populated as far as shorter routes or cut-throughs,” he said. “That’s where we get a lot of complaints about speed.” [email protected] (562) 698-0955, Ext. 3022 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!