Missouri receives grant to train officers

Missouri is one of seven states that is receiving a grant to expand training to detect drunken and drugged driving.

The Governors Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility are rewarding Missouri as one of seven states with a grant.

According to a press release from the GSHA, the new grant will expand training for law enforcement officers in alcohol- and drug-impaired driving detection.

Though the St. Joseph Police Department may not receive part of this grant, it does receive similar grants that help fund extra shifts for officers.

"We get a yearly grant, we apply for it every year. We've gotten it the past numerous years and it is specifically focused for officers going out. It pays their overtime to go out and hunt for drunk drivers or drug drivers," said Traffic Sgt. James Tonn with the St. Joseph Police Department. "They also have another alcohol grant that is for liquor enforcement. So we can go out and make sure bars aren't serving underage drinkers."

These grants help officers keep impaired drivers off the road without using taxpayer dollars.

The Police Department also receives smaller grants throughout the year to help during busier months and holidays.

"We call them mini grants -- they're through the Safety Center. We get grants with a small amount of money that are focused for one week or a weekend, specifically like July 4, or Superbowl Sunday or the week of St. Patrick's Day. They'll give us a small amount of money to send a few officers out there to work the street, looking for drunk drivers at those times," Tonn said. 

Summer tends to have a higher rate of impaired driving and with the added stress of COVID-19, there is concern this year will see an increase, however, Tonn said this year has not seen an increase so far.

As for trainin,g all officers go through a basic 48-hour training for standard field sobriety tests and operations of equipment. There are opportunities for officers to receive more in-depth training as well.

"Like most other types of training, you can have hundreds of hours of training on it, if that's what you prefer. There's a lot of different avenues and law enforcement, drunk driving, impaired driving is just one so if that's something you're into, we send you to training outside the department where you can be the subject matter expert on it, but every officer does have the basic that investigation," Tonn said.

Maykayla Hancock can be reached at makayla.hancock@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @NPNowHancock.