The Town Council voted 4-3 to apply for and accept the Operation Safe Commute Patrols grant to fund “distracted driving” patrols in Derry.
“The purpose of the patrol is to acquire compliance with state motor vehicle laws,” Police Chief Ed Garone told the Council. “We’re trying to ensure the safety of residents. This is about preserving life and property.”
Councilors Thom Cardon, Al Dimmock, and Mark Osborne voted against the grant, which is not to exceed $4,492.
According to the Highway Safety Agency, the Town would receive reimbursement salary expenses plus roll-up costs for 72 hours of patrols to be conducted in accordance with the statewide effort for distracted driving patrols.
The grant would not fund costs associated with officers attending court for tickets issued during the targeted patrols.
Garone said the additional patrol officers on the road would be specifically targeting drivers who are being overly aggressive, texting, speeding, and following vehicles too closely – infractions indicative of poor driving habits.
“This is a no brainer for us,” Garone said of applying for the grant. “Getting extra officers on the street at no cost to us is to the benefit of the citizens of Derry.”
Garone said the three-hour patrols would be conducted primarily during the morning and afternoon commute at the department’s discretion between Oct. 1, 2014 and Sept. 30, 2015.
“There are a lot of highway fatalities during the daily commute,” Garone said. “Alcohol, speed, and distracted driving are credited with many deaths, not just in New Hampshire, but also nationwide.”
In other business at the Tuesday, Oct. 7 Council meeting:
• The Town Council appointed Holly Lee Hall to the Energy and Environmental Committee with a 6-1 vote. Dimmock voted against the appointment, calling into question Hall’s commitment to the position if she wasn’t at the meeting for the vote on her appointment.
Chairman Mark Osborne noted there doesn’t seem to be any requirement that applicants for public boards in Derry be present for a vote on their appointment, and that it’s common for boards to approve several appointments at the beginning of a meeting without those applicants being present.
• The Town Council voted 7-0 to schedule on Nov. 18 at 7:30 p.m. a public hearing to consider changes to pole licenses in Derry.
The Council will consider fixing all the Town’s pole licenses, as well as adding a new requirement that pole owners provide the Town with the names and nature of all co-users.