Holiday roadblocks cancelled
The annual holiday roadblocks usually conducted by the Department of Public Safety (DPS) have been canceled due to the lack of funding to pay overtime for the cops, according to Police Commissioner Save Luiato Tuitele.
Every year during Christmas and into the New Year, police officers set up roadblocks at designated unannounced locations in an effort to weed out the number of drunk drivers on the road, to ensure the safety and well being of local motorists.
This year, however, Police Commissioner Save confirmed yesterday that there will be no roadblocks, and the decision was based on a directive from the Governor’s Office.
In response to Samoa News inquiries, Save said the holiday enforcement and roadblocks were scheduled but later had to be canceled after a notice from the Governor’s Office emphasized the need to set strict limits on the amount of overtime accrued during the holiday season.
According to Save, roadblocks need to be carried out by more than 6- 8 cops and therefore, having a full force of police officers on the roadside checking vehicles – in his opinion – would accumulate a hefty overtime payment, definitely something the Governor’s Office does not want to see happen.
Save said roadblocks require a lot of manpower and there is just no money to pay the officers.
He said the directive to ‘limit’ the overtime accrued during the holidays has resulted in the roadblocks being canceled; however, the DPS has increased the number of police units on the road, “more than the norm.”
The DPS Commissioner said he is hopeful ‘nothing serious’ happens, as far as traffic accidents or injuries, due to careless drunk drivers.
When asked about the increase in the number of cops on the road during evening hours, Save said the schedule has been revamped so that no overtime is involved.
Meanwhile, the DPS Office of Highway Safety (OHS) – through media campaigns and outreach — continues to urge local residents not to drink and drive:
IF YOU MUST DRINK, PLEASE GET A DESIGNATED DRIVER; OTHERWISE, STAY HOME.
When the holiday enforcement kicked off last Monday morning, a handful of people were taken into custody that same evening.
Since then, over a dozen people have appeared in the District Court on minor misdemeanor charges resulting from arrests made over the Christmas weekend, most involving alcohol & peace disturbances.