(KMOV) – The Jefferson County Council turned down money from the state for officers to operate DUI and safety checkpoints.
The county has the fourth highest number of accidents that lead to death or disabling injuries.
An official with the Highway Safety fund, a division of MoDOT that hands out the grants said this is the first time a city or county has ever turned down money to stop drunk driving.
"They don't care about law enforcement and in my opinion they don't have a great concern about the citizens and the safety of this community,” said Sheriff Glen Boyer with the Jefferson County Police Department.
Sheriff Boyer is angry the county said no to a $22,000 grant he planned to use for DUI checkpoints over the holidays. The grant is part of a statewide program to reduce fatal accidents and is often spent on checkpoints to catch speeders or those not wearing seatbelts.
Don Bickowski is one of the council members who voted six to one at Tuesday night’s meeting to reject the grant. There were concerns raised over the way drivers are treated at checkpoints. Sheriff Boyer said checkpoints save lives and he needs the grant to pay for them.
"We're 35 deputies down from where we should be, in order to supplement that loss we use these grants to put additional officers on the street,” said Sheriff Boyer.
Bickowski told News 4’s Russell Kinsaul he is not accusing deputies of violating drivers rights but to protect from lawsuits. It’s his duty to make sure the sheriff has written policies on how to conduct checkpoints and that deputies are following the rules.
When asked if there were proper written policies for DUI checkpoints, Bickowski said “based on citizen comments there was concern about that and that the citizens’ rights weren’t being infringed on."
Sheriff Boyer thinks the council’s trying to control his department through budget decisions.
Bickowski said as soon as the sheriff’s office can provide a written policy on checkpoints, he’s willing to vote to accept the grant and that other council members would too.
Stay with News and KMOV.com as we continue to follow this story.