Operation Southern Slow Down underway, with Sarasota Police Department and Sheriff’s Office participating

Goal is to prevent accidents, especially those resulting in fatalities and severe injuries

Law enforcement personnel with the Sarasota Police Department and the Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office began participating in Operation Southern Slow Down on Monday, July 17, the agencies have reported.

The Sarasota Police Department (SPD) and the Sheriff’s Office are partnering with law enforcement agencies throughout Florida, as well as those in Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee, on this initiative, an SPD news release says.

Operation Southern Slow Down, which will take place through July 23, is focused “on the busy summertime travel period when the number of injuries and fatal crashes increases significantly,” the Police Department explains in its news release. The goal of the high visibility enforcement and awareness campaign is to reduce fatalities and severe injuries by making motorists obey speed limits.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports that, for more than two decades, speeding has been shown to be a factor in approximately one-third of all motor vehicle fatalities, the release continues. “In 2021, speeding was a contributing factor in 29% of all traffic fatalities.”

“The most important thing about driving is staying safe behind the wheel,” said Officer Tim Bales of the Sarasota Police Department Traffic Unit in the release. “One of our primary goals in our Traffic Unit is to make sure residents in our community and those visitors who are traveling through get home safely,” Bales added.

In 2022, SPD officers issued 267 citations and/or warnings for not wearing seat belts, 5,243 citations and/or warnings for speeding, and 1,000 citations and/or warnings for driving while license suspended, the SPD release points out. Additionally, officers made 168 arrests for driving under the influence (DUI).

“Sarasota County Sheriff Kurt A. Hoffman has a long record of working to improve traffic issues in the community through innovative and targeted campaigns against speeding and reckless driving,” the Sheriff’s Office notes in a separate news release.

“Protecting our citizens is always our priority,” Hoffman said in the release. “Traffic accidents can be reduced and prevented through education and awareness. With campaigns like Operation Southern Slow Down, that is what we hope to accomplish.”

Operation Southern Slow Downformerly Operation Southern Shield, was launched in 2017, the SPD release adds.