The Harker Heights Police Department has been invited to partner with the Texas Department of Transportation’s Selective Traffic Enforcement Program, or STEP.
STEP funds additional hours of traffic enforcement within the community to help identify and reduce the number of severe vehicle crashes, detect impaired drivers and reduce overall crime.
The program will provide $12,000 to the department, HHPD Lt. Steve Miller said via email.
The increased funds will primarily go toward reimbursing the department for overtime paid to patrol officers, Miller said.
Police Chief Paul Gadd told the Herald that his department was required to submit an application and provide TxDOT with policies that were going to be adhered to by HHPD.
“There were some agreements that we would work high traffic locations. We had to set up some areas and designate where they would be,” Gadd said.
“We were to show that officers would also work in certain time frames where there would be a lot of vehicular traffic, such as July 4 for alcohol consumption and drunken driving, New Year’s Eve and other holidays,” Gadd said.
Once the application was submitted to TxDOT, they agreed to provide HHPD with overtime funding for officers in order to participate in the program. It allows the department to put more officers out on the street where they would otherwise not be able to afford it.
“Regular white traditional police vehicles will be on the streets that have what are called “ghost” markings in lighter gray or silver reflective material unlike our marked units with red and blue,” Gadd said.
The “Ghost” vehicles will also not have a light bar on the top but will have lights on the dash and in the grill.
“Drivers will realize these are police vehicles,” Gadd said.
HHPD has not begun using STEP but is currently involved in training its officers about protocol, reporting procedures so they can maintain accurate information, Gadd said.
The residents of Harker Heights can expect a higher police presence and enforcement level throughout the City over the next year in order to achieve the goals of STEP.