Overtime pay can be a costly thing for municipalities, but the Robstown Police Department is participating in a state program that aims to offset some of those costs in order to curb speeding drivers within the city limits.
The STEP Program, which is sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation, is meant to reimburse the department for overtime pay and fuel costs for officers who work traffic patrol in areas that have been designated as having speed compliance issues. This means offices target areas where speeding is rampant, said Robstown police officer Jimmy Wilson.
"Being visible is a big thing," Wilson said. "When people see units, they're usually more apt to do what's right."
Four problem areas within the city limits include State Highway 44 East and West, which have respective compliance rates of 28 and 25 percent, as well as the U.S. Highway 77 bypass and business road, which have compliance rates of 38 and 40 percent, Wilson said. That's a 33 percent average for compliance within the city, he added.
The state compliance average is 26 percent, he added.
"That's why we're trying to really concentrate on those areas out there," Wilson said.
The department currently has a goal of raising the compliance percentage to 43 percent, Wilson said, which would put it at nearly double the state average.
In addition, the program reimbursed the police department nearly $11,000 through the month of May, with the funding cycle not scheduled to end until the end of December.
Currently, officers working the four problem areas are averaging 60 hours in overtime conducting speed monitoring and control, Wilson said.
The department is currently waiting to hear from TxDOT on whether it has qualified for next year's STEP funding cycle.
As with previous years, it would require about a 23 percent match from the department.