COVINGTON — The “Newberry Blitz” kicked off on Wednesday morning at the Covington Police Department with increased law enforcement from the Piqua post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol, the Miami County Sheriff’s Office, and the Covington Police Department.
From July 1-31, Newberry Township will be seeing law enforcement from these three agencies cracking down on traffic violations in order to attempt to curb the high number of traffic accidents in the area.
“The whole point of it is to try to reduce some of the traffic crashes that occur in this area,” Lieutenant Joseph Gebhart of the Piqua post of the Ohio State Highway Patrol said.
Gebhart stated that after looking at their statistics from 2013 and into this year, Newberry Township has had approximately 300 traffic crashes, resulting in approximately 50 people who have been injured and five fatalities.
“Unfortunately, just recently with the little boy that was killed in Bradford, we’ve had five traffic fatalities in this township alone,” Gebhart said.
Gebhart reinforced that there are consequences for poor driving choices. The goal of this increased law enforcement initiative during July is to educate drivers and inspire better driving tactics in the future.
“We’re going to work an enforcement campaign to target crash-causing violations, and the whole point is to try to change behavior, try to educate the motorist,” Gebhart said.
The initiative will also be taking place during Country Concert, which is being held on July 9 through July 11 in Fort Loramie. Law enforcement agents are hoping to also impact the traffic violations seen from out-of-towners who may put Newberry Township residents at risk while trying to get to Country Concert.
“As we know, typically there’s a large amount of traffic that comes in,” Gebhart said. With that traffic brings an increase in speeding violations, improper passing, failure to yield, and impaired drivers, Gebhart said.
“We’ll be out in full force, looking for those driving behaviors, taking enforcement actions, and trying to make a difference,” Gebhart said.
Deputy Chief Dave Duchak with the Miami County Sheriff’s Office and Covington Police Chief Lee Harmon were also present Wednesday morning to show support of this law enforcement initiative.
“We’re very fortunate in this county,” Duchak said.
For the 11th year in a row, Miami County has received grant money in order to make this initiative possible.
“The Newberry Blitz is part of the 1,100 hours of overtime deputies will work this year focusing on poor driving habits which result in crashes,” Miami County Sheriff Charles Cox stated in a press release. “The overtime and related costs, such as fuel for cruisers, is reimbursed to the county through a grant that has been awarded to the sheriff’s office for at least the past 10 years.”
At the kickoff on Wednesday morning, Duchak explained that the “Newberry Blitz” will take approximately 150 of those additional overtime hours funded by the grant.
“During County Concert weekend, deputies will be heavily on patrol,” Duchak said.
Miami County Sheriff’s Office deputies will be working with extra attention in Newberry Township for deterrence purposes, strict enforcement purposes, for all crash-causing purposes, Duchak said. It is all in an effort to lower the number of traffic crashes in that area.
“We want everybody to have safe journeys to and from their destinations,” Duchak said.
“We certainly do see a lot more traffic this time of year during this summer holiday,” Harmon said.
Harmon stated that the Covington Police Department shares a “supportive and cooperative working relationship” with the Ohio State Highway Patrol and the Miami County Sheriff’s Office.
“We are happy to assist anyway we can to make it a safe summer for everybody,” Harmon said.