Annual Bluffton police report indicates rise in drug, alcohol violations

rlurye@islandpacket.comFebruary 16, 2014 

This map, taken from the 2013 Bluffton Police Department crime report, shows traffic collision data.

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Drug and alcohol violations rose steeply in Bluffton during the past year, according to the Bluffton Police Department's 2013 annual report.

Officers recorded 115 drug-abuse violations and 33 driving-under-the-influence incidents in 2013, up from 51 drug violations and 23 DUIs the previous year, according to the report released Wednesday.

Some of that increase has to do with a growing population, Capt. Joseph Manning said, but the department is still taking steps to keep the spike from becoming a trend.

The department recently applied for a grant that would allow it to form a unit that would concentrate full-time on traffic enforcement, including impaired drivers, Manning said. Police are also reaching out to the growing number of restaurants, bars and liquor stores in the Bluffton area, Manning said.

Those officers plan to help owners and servers better recognize impaired patrons.

The department renewed its focus last year on educating officers, as well. Police completed 6,618 hours of training, up more than 180 percent from 2012, the report said.

Several new hires and officers due for recertification accounted for many of those hours, Manning said. However, most were tallied by officers volunteering to receive more education in specialized fields, such as sex offenses, white-collar crime and computer-related crime.

The department recorded 10 sex offenses in 2013, compared to four in 2012, the report said. Embezzlement and fraud also increased.

The Bluffton annual report revealed some encouraging results.

Written warnings and traffic citations both declined about 40 percent from the previous year, the report said. After recording more than 4,600 traffic tickets in 2012, police used the data it collected to place more officers in the highest crash and traffic areas, Manning said.

"Mere presence at certain high-traffic times will affect the way a driver drives," Manning said.

Follow reporter Rebecca Lurye at twitter.com/IPBG_Rebecca.

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