RUMFORD – Thanks to a $4,500 grant from the state, Rumford police can continue their aggressive operating under the influence enforcement program.

Rumford OUI Project coordinator Sgt. George Cayer, a certified drug recognition expert, said the department was notified Thursday that they had been awarded their ninth consecutive OUI grant from the Maine Department of Public Safety.

“Now that we’re up to full staff, we plan on having numerous roadblocks and saturation patrols throughout the summer, especially on holidays and special events,” Cayer said Friday afternoon.

Grants totaling $123,810 were awarded to 38 Maine police and sheriff’s departments to assist them with drunken driving enforcement.

The funds will be used to pay overtime to officers on special duty working solely on the detection and apprehension of drunken drivers, said Maine Bureau of Highway Safety Director Richard E. Perkins.

Money for the grants, which range from $2,000 to $5,000 per department, comes from federal highway grants administered by his agency.

Rumford was listed in the top five for most money awarded due to need, Cayer said.

“We qualify because of the evident problems we have in the area. The Rumford police and surrounding communities have a major drunk-driving problem. Past OUI Emphasis Programs have reduced the number of OUI arrest and car crashes in our city. However, our OUI incidents for the year 2002 were extremely high,” Cayer said.

From Jan. 1, 2002, to Dec. 31, 2002, the department logged 65 first offense OUI arrests, 26 second offense OUI arrests, four third offense OUI arrests, two fourth offense OUI arrests, eight administrative violations and four OUI drugs arrests.

Police also investigated 31 complaints that resulted in no action because officers were either unable to locate suspects or they were found not to be OUI, Cayer said.

“Holiday dates are still a problem in our area. They are selected for extra patrol because of the likelihood of accident involvement and alcohol traffic fatalities associated with these time periods.

“We still have 17 drinking establishments in our area of responsibility and a large section of U.S. Route 2 that travels from Mexico town line through Rumford to the Hanover line that is approximately 15 miles in distance,” Cayer added.

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