UPDATE: Gilroy Police to add traffic officer

No plans for downtown police beat

A $200,000 grant will help police make the streets of Gilroy a
little bit safer.
A $200,000 grant will help police make the streets of Gilroy a little bit safer.

The Selective Traffic Enforcement Program grant, funded by the California Office of Traffic Safety, will allow the Gilroy Police Department to hire one additional traffic officer, bringing its traffic enforcement team up to three, and purchase a motorcycle for that officer.

Officer Jesus Contreras will join the two current traffic officers – Nestor Quinones and Drew Viale – in rounding out the team. The grant money allows the police department to hire a new officer to shift into Contreras’ patrol position, said Sgt. Kurt Ashley. The department is hoping to purchase Contreras’ motorcycle within a month, he said.

“We couldn’t have done it without the grant,” Ashley said.

The grant will help Gilroy police target high-risk traffic areas, red light violations, excessive speed violations, seatbelt violations and drivers who are intoxicated. The grant will allow officers to conduct regular DUI checkpoints, saturation patrols, red light enforcement operations and special enforcement operations targeting drivers exhibiting excessive speed and violations in intersections.

According to figures provided by the Gilroy Police Department, traffic deaths overall declined in 2009 in California by 10.3 percent and alcohol-impairing driving fatalities dropped by 7.6 percent. Still, DUI deaths continue to make up 31 percent of fatalities.

“Everyone in California should be heartened with these figures,” said Christopher J. Murphy, Director of the California Office of Traffic Safety. “But as encouraging as this is, we can’t let up on the efforts to encourage and enforce traffic safety. Thousands are still losing their lives or being severely injured on our roadways.”

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