TUCSON, Ariz. — The Pinal County Sheriff’s Office received more than $46,000 in funding from the Arizona Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help make our roadways safer, and with the money purchased a fully-equipped bright, blue Dodge Charger.
This purpose is to enhance the STEP (Selective Traffic Enforcement Program) and DUI enforcement efforts through Pinal County. STEP grants allows the Pinal County Sheriff’s Office traffic unit to conduct speed enforcement details throughout the county. PCSO said speeding and driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol are both linked to many of the accidents and fatalities in Pinal County and across Arizona.
According to Deputy Charles Schmidlin, being in an unmarked car "people to tend to drive a little bit crazier."
"I think people see it and I think a lot of people think of it as kind of a challenge," Schmidlin said. "We will spot at spotlights and people will rev their engines because they want to race. I always let them win, but in the end we end up having a conversation anyway."
Schmidlin said it's easier to catch people creating a traffic hazard on the roadway when they look like everyday drivers.
"I will be driving the speed limit or just a few miles over, and people will just pass us and they'll pass us speeding 30, 40 over the speed limit," Schmidlin said.
Schmidlin said the number one cause for fatal collisions is speeding.
PCSO already has a red Dodge Charger, which Schmidlin use to be assigned too. With that car, PCSO said traffic fatalities went from 26 in 2017 to six in 2018.
Schmidlin said he hopes this new car will help reduce that number to zero.
"It's sad. I wish that people wouldn't do dumb things to die for nothing more than to get to where they're going three minutes faster," Schmidlin said. "Being a vehicular crimes investigator that I am I'm tired of going and telling people that their family is, their loved ones are dead because something dumb like they were speeding or they weren't wearing a seat belt."