Butler County gets new weapon on wheels


It's a county lately known for a high number of traffic deaths.

But, new statistics from 2010 show a dramatic decline in Butler County fatalities. Local law enforcement want to keep it that way. 

Butler County is the only county in southeast Missouri to receive a new tool to not only target speeders, but drunk drivers as well.

According the Butler County Sheriff's Department, in 2008 there were 13 deadly crashes. In 2009 there were 11. Then, there was a sharp drop last year with 6 fatalities reported.

"Our goal is to make sure people get home safely, and we don't have to give someone a knock on the door that nobody wants to hear," said Sheriff Butler County Mark Dobbs. 

While statistics improved, Sheriff Dobbs isn't ready to let his guard down. That's where a new weapon on wheels comes in.

"The radar is the latest system on the market," said Dobbs. "The camera system is state of the art, and it's activated as soon as you hit the lights."

The traffic enforcement car's main purpose is DWI stops.

"That's going to be the biggest beneficiary to this car," said Corporal Brandon Lowe. 

It is the only Butler County squad car equipped with cameras. There is one shooting outside the car, and a camera with audio inside the vehicle.

"The hardest part about DWI is going to court," said Lowe. "That's why the camera system is so important."

The car, and the overtime hours for officers using this car is all paid for through grants from the Missouri Department of Transportation. MODOT had seven cars, and Butler County is the only county in southeast Missouri to receive one. The other vehicles went to Washington County, Greene County, and the final four went to the St. Louis area.

"It's somewhat of a new concept," said Sheriff Dobbs. "Sheriff's departments typically don't get involved in traffic enforcement."

Corporal Lowe says traffic enforcement is something he rarely does. "It's not to break pocketbooks, it's to keep everyone safe and get them home safely," said Lowe. 

For that reason, he's ready and willing to take the traffic enforcement car on the road.

They haven't officially rolled out the vehicle yet, but plan to start using the enforcement car soon. The county won't use it everyday, but instead officers will come in on overtime or off days to use the vehicle.

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