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As the number of DWI charges in the city now exceed last year’s overall total, the Roanoke Rapids Police Department will be using a three-year grant for a full-time traffic enforcement officer.

The three-year grant is from the Governor’s Highway Safety Commission and funds the purchase of equipment and pays the officer’s salary and fringe benefits “to combat driving issues and reduce fatalities within Roanoke Rapids,” Chief Shane Guyant wrote in an action request form which was presented to the city council at its meeting last week. “This officer would devote 100 percent of their time enforcing traffic-related laws, impacting reductions in motor vehicle accidents, lowering traffic-related injuries and deaths, increasing seat belt use and detecting and arresting DWI offenders.”

The fine print

The amount of grant funding is $115,090 and a $20,310 match for the first year. The grant covers $75,400 in salary and fringes for one officer. The direct costs total $60,000 which includes a vehicle, equipment, computer, radar units and training.

During the second year of the grant the city would be responsible for salary and fringes and the fiscal year 2025-26 request is estimated at around $78,000 with a 75-25 match.

In the third year the city would again be responsible for salary and fringes estimated in that budget year to be around $80,000 with a 50-50 match.

At the conclusion of the grant the city would either have to absorb the position or let it lapse.

For the three-year life of the grant the position will cost approximately $293,000 with the grant funding $213,500 and the city responsible for $79,500.

The grant begins October 1, Guyant said this morning.


“Alarmingly, as of 2022, Halifax County is ranked 30th in the state for traffic-related fatalities, 34th in speed-related fatalities, and 31st in unrestrained fatalities,” Guyant wrote in the grant application. “We recognize that a large portion of the traffic issues involve the county roadways, however, being the largest municipality shares a burden of these abysmal numbers.”

The purpose of this grant would be to seek funding to train, equip, and deploy a specialized officer to combat driving issues and reduce fatalities within Roanoke Rapids and Halifax County. “Furthermore, we desire funding that will enable us to better educate the public, enforce traffic laws, and deter other incorrigible traffic-related activity, thus reducing traffic-related injuries and property damage.”

The chief wrote that the top-moving force deployed by law enforcement agencies nationwide to reduce vehicle collisions, reduce injuries and fatalities, and reduce speed has always been proactive and noticeable enforcement. 

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012 one-third of the 42,815 deaths that resulted from vehicle collisions was directly attributed to speed. 

Furthermore, NHTSA reported that the economic burden to citizens on US highways was $205 billion in 2006. “These two statistics are almost a decade old, but I am sure they still run true today,” he wrote. “Law enforcement agencies constantly seek techniques and proactive approaches that will reduce these numbers. Grants like this one are an incredible start and show commitment by entities to follow through on the desire to uphold mission statements that include saving lives and preserving property.” 

Guyant said the inclusion of a dedicated traffic enforcement officer can have incredible impacts on safety and the reduction of traffic crashes. “We are confident that funds from this grant will allow us the ability to create a dedicated traffic enforcement officer for our municipality. “Marketing our goals and keeping the public abreast of our activities is yet another way we can be successful in reducing injuries and deaths and reducing property damage from motor vehicle incidents.”

Guyant said, “We care about our residents and visitors. We have tens of thousands of motorists pass through our city yearly. Mainly because of our location off of I95 and all of the retail and dining possibilities. There is also a significant amount of commuter traffic that passes through the city daily.”

Proposed solution

“The Roanoke Rapids Police Department will utilize a dedicated traffic safety officer to conduct high visibility enforcement in identified areas using available data to reduce highway traffic fatalities,” the chief wrote. “This officer will promote highway traffic safety at educational and outreach events and participate in GHSP campaigns.” 

He said the department recognizes the value of maintaining a transparent and collaborative partnership with the community it serves. “Collectively, these partnerships not only strengthen law enforcement and community relations but also reinforce our efforts to implement effective and sustainable traffic safety strategies. In doing so, the Roanoke Rapids Police Department remains committed to engaging with and sharing information with the members of our community through open dialogue.” 

With these thoughts in mind, engagement opportunities will be accomplished by coordinating and/or participating in various forums, meetings, and community functions whereby feedback from citizens and business owners alike is first solicited and then integrated into practical traffic safety initiatives, Guyant wrote. “Over time, the effectiveness of these initiatives will be assessed, and the results communicated back to the community. To ensure transparency in the methods used during traffic enforcement activities, the Roanoke Rapids Police Department will make available to the community information regarding how to access traffic stop data already required and compiled by the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigation.” 

Budget justification

The Roanoke Rapids Police Department will use the vehicle and equipment to conduct high visibility enforcement to reduce the number of collisions that end in fatalities. “The project patrol vehicles and equipment will also be used for traffic enforcement and education,” the chief wrote. “This will be carried out by increasing the number of traffic contacts and elevating the public’s awareness of at-risk driving behavior.” 

Guyant noted that the successful adjudication of traffic safety violations is important. “The installation of in-car cameras will help traffic officers retain critical evidence that will likely be necessary to secure a conviction in court thereby bolstering the importance of these primary traffic safety offenses.”

In addition, they will provide the ability to hold officers, as well as the citizenry accountable for the interaction that occurs during traffic enforcement activities. “This in turn will generate heightened interest and support for continuing traffic enforcement operations. As a result, community engagement is enhanced and trust is restored and/or solidified. Lastly, it will provide training resources and subsequent opportunities for the officers and the public alike when seeking traffic safety intervention strategies.” 

The department has continued to see an increase in speeding violations, the chief wrote. “The majority of enforcement takes place on major roadways due to their high crash volume, and speeding continues to be a leading cause of crashes within our county. With funding for one additional radar, LIDAR, or both, more officers can be placed in areas to combat this  concern. We hope that more enforcement leads to fewer crashes.”