Sheriff Clay Chism, left, and Lt. Curtis Hall of the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office tell Callaway County Commissioners about their intention to reapply for the MoDOT Highway Safety Grant. For 2018-19, the sheriff’s office is requesting $9,030. Photo by Helen Wilbers /Fulton Sun

In 2019, Sheriff Clay Chism wants each road deputy equipped with a portable breath tester.

If the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office’s request for the 2018-19 Missouri Department of Transportation Highway Safety Grant is approved, Chism will be able to purchase six PBTs — bringing the department total to 16.

That’s only one of the grant’s benefits, Chism told Callaway County Commissioners on Wednesday.

“Say we get a complaint at 7 a.m. that a school bus is continually getting passed on one street,” he said. “With this grant, we can assign a deputy to work overtime.”

The sheriff’s office frequently receives similar complaints about dangerous traffic situations. However, with so much ground to cover, on-duty road deputies don’t always have the time to stake out a location.

The funds spent on overtime wages are then reimbursed to the department within two to three weeks.

For the last 10 years, the Callaway County Sheriff’s Office has applied for and received this state grant in amounts ranging from $17,067.36 (2010) to $7,500 (2013).

The last seven years, Chism and Lt. Curtis Hall have requested funding for hazardous moving violations, a broader category than the driving-while-intoxicated enforcement funding requested the first three years.

Chism said the money has helped improve road safety in Callaway County. For the enforcement period beginning Oct. 1, 2016 and ending Sept. 30, the grant helped pay for 474 stops. Over the course of those stops, deputies issued 456 warnings (172 for speeding alone) and issued 44 citations.

“We’re not a ticket-writing agency,” Chism added.

This year, for the period beginning Oct. 1, 2018 and ending Sept. 30 2019, the department is requesting $9,030. Chism said that $6,720 will go towards paying overtime and $2,310 towards purchasing the PBTs.

“We have to spell out every penny,” Hall said.

Commissioners approved the submission of the grant application Wednesday.

By Helen Wilburs | Fulton Sun