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UAPD receives two grants related to improving public awareness of traffic laws

Simon Asher
A UAPD officer patrols campus in their squad car on Tuesday, Sept. 6.

The University of Arizona Police Department received over $45,000 worth of grants from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to educate about and enforce traffic laws. In addition, the department is working with the Associated Students of the University of Arizona in their partnership to promote the LiveSafe mobile app on campus. 

Every year, UAPD applies for grants from the GOHS for various purposes, such as equipment or personnel funding. Last year, UAPD received a grant for its impairment goggles. 

This year, UAPD received two grants from GOHS. The first was $30,000 to help with DUI and underage drinking enforcement, and the second was $15,765 for educating students on pedestrian and bicycle laws, according to Sgt. Cindy Spasoff, UAPD public information officer.  

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According to the GOHS website, the office’s mission is to increase “public awareness of highway safety.” One way they do this is by providing funding to law enforcement agencies and non-profit organizations. 

Agency Director and Governor’s Highway Safety Representative Alberto Gutier explained how they decided to award the grant to the UAPD. 

“Everything we do is based on data,” he said. “The data shows that there is a major issue with citations and pedestrian injuries from crashes … So we award based on that data.”

Spasoff agreed that there have always been issues with student traffic on campus.

“We have a lot of students that get tunnel vision as far as they need to go to class,” Spasoff said. 

She said the problem comes from most of the bicyclists and pedestrians texting or simply not paying attention while crossing. 

For the DUI grant, Spasoff also mentioned the upcoming holidays, such as St. Patrick’s Day, Labor Day, graduation and the Fourth of July, noting these holidays are considered as some of the “deadliest holidays” often associated with alcohol, and that UAPD’s goal is to keep drivers on campus safe. 

According to Spasoff, the two grants will assist in funding additional personnel to combat these issues. 

“[The grant] gives us the ability to spend a little bit of extra time and really dedicate a portion of a few hours a day with student engagement and education,” she said. “Without the grant, our officers are really busy going from a call to another call to another call, and it gives us the ability to spend that extra time to help our students rather than react.”

Overall, Spasoff said it will help the officers “be more visual in the community” and create more personal communication with the students.

“We really want to students to realize that we’re partners and we’re here to help you,” she said. 

Gutier said he hopes that the grant will help students understand the laws and the dangers of crossing. 

“Whatever we have to do to save a life,” he said. 

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UAPD has also partnered with ASUA to promote resources like the LiveSafe app, a mobile app that can contact UAPD anonymously, and SafeRide. Spasoff said this is to help students be aware of resources that could keep them safe. 

“It is very important that students can discreetly contact the police without talking to a police officer,” Spasoff said. “I think [it] hopefully gives the students more empowerment to feel like they can help each other out when something comes up.”

So far, Spasoff has noticed an increase in the user base since school has started. “Our reports aren’t as high as we would like to see them, but I would rather students have and not use it or not need it than [not] have it at all,” she said. “I think as familiarity comes into play and students start using it and getting comfortable with it, that will go up.”

UAPD had its first tabling outreach event on the UA Mall with ASUA last Monday, Jan. 14, and will be continuing to promote these services throughout the semester. 

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