Elk River police officers rewarded for saving lives

Thanks to a new speed-measuring device provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety’s Office of Traffic Safety, law enforcement officers in Elk River are better equipped to identify vehicles driving at illegal and unsafe speeds.

Pictured left to right are Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe, Tom Kummrow (Office of Traffic Safety) and Elk River Officer Dave Windels.

The Elk River Police Department is one of only nine law enforcement agencies in Minnesota being awarded a Kustom Signal, Pro Laser III, LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging) unit for participating in the Towards Zero Deaths enforcement effort (formerly known as Safe & Sober) that took place during the month of October.

The October mobilization effort, combining enforcement with education, raised awareness of the problem with unbelted vehicle occupants on streets and highways.

“Traffic enforcement may not be seen as the most glamorous job in the department,” said Elk River Police Chief Brad Rolfe, “but it is more likely to save a life than nearly anything else we can do. Traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for Minnesotans usually considered too young to die — those between 1 and 34 years old.”

“It’s impossible to tell exactly how many or whose lives are saved when we emphasize traffic enforcement,” he continued, “the result is a death or injury that doesn’t happen. We just know it changes drivers’ behaviors.”

Tom Kummrow, a law enforcement liaison for the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, said, “The Elk River Police Department is receiving this LIDAR unit in recognition of their commitment to enforcing traffic laws every day, not just when we’re able to pay for overtime hours. This is so important to upholding the motto “to protect and serve” — it keeps our families complete and our friends healthy.”

The pin-point accuracy of the LIDAR unit allows the officer to check the speed of the vehicles even in high traffic situations, like Elk River experiences.

Elk River is a part of a traffic safety coalition that works under a TZD grant from the Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety. Every agency in Sherburne County participates in the cooperative effort to remove impaired drivers from the roads in Sherburne County and makes sure all occupants in motor vehicles are buckled up. The Elk River Police Department heads up these TZD efforts and administers the TZD grant under the supervision of Officer Dave Windels.

The LIDAR unit was recently presented to Rolfe and Windels at the police station.

TZD enforcement is a statewide and national law enforcement campaign designed to increase seat belt and child seat use and decrease the incidence of speeding and impaired driving.