Savannah Police awarded H.E.A.T. grants, using money to cut down on drunk driving

Published: Dec. 16, 2021 at 3:52 PM EST
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SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Savannah Police Department is getting a grant that will allow them to keep a vital resource on the road that aims to save lives and prevent injuries on the road.

WTOC talked with police about the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety H.E.A.T. grant, and how they’re planning on using it.

Savannah Police is one of 21 agencies around the state receiving this grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. It’s about $38,000 that will allow the department to keep a hand full of specialized traffic enforcement vehicles on the road over the next year.

For the better part of a decade, Savannah Police says they’ve been able to utilize H.E.A.T. grant money to cut down on drunk driving and other traffic violations on Savannah’s roads.

H.E.A.T. stands for Highway Enforcement of Aggressive Traffic. Here’s how productive Savannah H.E.A.T. Unit officers have been over the past two years: 249 DUI arrests were made in 2020, and that number is up to 318 this year as of Wednesday.

“We want a reduction in DUI’s. So it’s not all about making arrests, it’s about getting everybody to realize that we need a reduction in the DUI’s that we have,” said Lt. Torrance Garvin with the Savannah Police Department.

H.E.A.T. Unit officers also focus on cracking down on aggressive and distracted driving.

“You couldn’t possibly believe how many people haven’t gotten the message yet that you can’t have that cell phone in your hand,” said Cpl. Steven Bland with Savannah Police Department’s H.E.A.T. Unit.

The grant money allows SPD more outreach opportunities at schools and community meetings to educate the public on current laws and how to be safer drivers. Grant dollars also pay for upgrades in the specialized vehicles that help keep officers and other drivers safe during traffic stops.

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