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Sheriff's Office receives light bars for Safe and Sober patrols

WILLMAR -- The Kandiyohi County Sheriff's Office received two low-profile, LED light bars Wednesday in recognition of the agency's involvement in the state's Safe and Sober impaired driving and seatbelt awareness campaigns.

The presentation was made by Brad Kollmann, the law enforcement liaison for the campaign, to Sheriff Dan Hartog. The bars, valued at $3,000, will be used on new patrol vehicles, possibly four-wheel drive models the sheriff wants on each patrol shift.

Kollmann praised the department for doing an excellent job of focusing on seatbelt use, as between 60 and 70 percent of traffic fatalities are unbuckled motorists. During the campaign, local officers logged 965 hours of patrol time, issued 1,724 citations and stopped 1,316 cars, Hartog said. He credited the sheriff's deputies, along with officers from the Swift County Sheriff's Office and the police departments in Willmar, Atwater and Benson, for raising awareness and seatbelt use among drivers.

"It's really made a difference in getting people to slow down and wear their seatbelts," Hartog said, noting that the last seatbelt survey showed 83 percent of drivers in the county and 72 percent of drivers in the city of Willmar wearing their seatbelts.

During the July campaign, the Sheriff's Office arrested 27 drivers for driving while impaired and cited one person for consumption that was under the 0.08 blood-alcohol limit. Over the summer, the department and officers from the Department of Natural Resources have arrested six boaters for boating while impaired.

The local law enforcement agencies will conduct Safe and Sober patrols on Halloween, around the Thanksgiving holiday and during the Christmas holiday season in December. The patrols are funded by grants from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, through the state Office of Traffic Safety.