A multi-agency Butler County task force that targets impaired driving recently received another round of funding after a year that saw a sharp drop in fatal OVI-related fatal crashes.
The Butler County OVI Task Force was created more than 20 years ago as a result of the federal and state assistance to expand enforcement to address Butler County’s high alcohol-related fatal crashes. The task force is composed of law enforcement agencies who team up during these sobriety checkpoints through federal funding distributed by the Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Ohio Traffic Safety Office.
On Oct. 1, the unit received $225,000 in federal traffic safety funding for the fiscal year that ends on Sept. 30, 2020, said Pete Reising, the task force coordinator. The funding pays for the costs to conduct the OVI checkpoints and saturation patrols.
Agencies receiving reimbursement through the grant include Middletown, Hamilton, Fairfield, Monroe, Fairfield Twp., Oxford, Fairfield Twp., New Miami, Ross Twp., Trenton, Oxford Twp., West Chester and Miami University police departments and the Butler County Sheriff’s Office. The Ohio State Highway Patrol is also a participating agency but is not reimbursed through that grant.
Other than the highway patrol, Reising said Fairfield police has the highest OVI arrest rate by a Butler County-based law enforcement agency.
“These funds are critical to ensuring that we are doing everything possible to keep our streets safe,” Reising said. “This funding will benefit the citizens of Butler County as we continue our mission to save lives and make our roadways safer.”
Over the past five fiscal years, the task force has conducted 93 sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, or about 19 per year. During those checkpoints and patrols, the task force has been in contact with 44,820 drivers, or about 8,964 drivers per year.
Officers have made about 65 OVI arrests at the checkpoints over the past five fiscal years, an average of 13 OVI arrests per year. Reising said the totals for fiscal year 2018-19 are approximate. The totals also do not reflect all of the other arrests made during a stop for additional investigation on drugs, weapons, outstanding warrants and traffic infractions.
In Butler County, the highway patrol and local police officers have made more than 7,400 OVI arrests over the past five fiscal years, according to their statistics.
Reising said the past fiscal year, 2018-19, saw a 50 percent reduction in OVI-related fatal crashes from 14 in 2017-18 to seven. There were a total 54 fatal crashes over the past five fiscal years.
In the past five fiscal years, there have been 965 OVI-related injury crashes in Butler County. Injury crashes spiked to 291 in 2015-16 but have been trending down in the past three fiscal years.
“Without the OVI grant, the OVI arrests made during grant hours would not have occurred,” Reising said. “Those arrests saved lives. That is the mission of the Butler County OVI Task Force — to save lives.”
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