RUMFORD — Rumford and Mexico police departments were each awarded $10,000 grants this week to increase patrols for drunken drivers.

The grants are from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety.

“It’s definitely needed,” Mexico interim police Chief Roy Hodsdon said Thursday afternoon.

Rumford police will conduct extra details over the Thanksgiving holiday weekend for underage drinking. Those details will be paid with an Underage Drinking Enforcement Task Force grant, Rumford Chief Stacy Carter said Thursday by email.

“Of course, we will also be looking for impaired drivers,” he said.

Rumford police participate in the Tri-County Underage Drinking Task Force for Oxford, Franklin and Androscoggin counties.

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Hodsdon said his department doesn’t have the manpower available to conduct extra enforcement during the Thanksgiving holiday weekend.

Both chiefs, however, said Thanksgiving is the busiest holiday for River Valley police due to heavy bar traffic.

“I think it’s because college students are home and they like to hit the bars,” Hodsdon said. “There are a lot of them who leave this state and this is their first time home and they want to hang out and reminisce with friends. Christmas Eve is the same way and that first week in January.”

And while Mexico police won’t be out doing extra patrols on Thanksgiving, they will have an officer at the Mexico Walmart on Black Friday, Nov. 29, to help with security. Walmart requested an officer and pays for their time, Hodsdon said.

“It’s something that we have been doing for two to three years ever since they had that stampede,” he said, referring to the November 2008 incident in which a Walmart employee at a Long Island, N.Y., store was killed when an unruly mob of shoppers broke through the front doors and trampled him.

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