'Operation Blue Light' I-70 patrol begins in Indiana and Ohio

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

A joint law enforcement effort along Interstate 70 in Indiana and Ohio began on Tuesday.

"Operation Blue Light," a joint enforcement project between the Indiana State Police and the Ohio Highway Patrol, will concentrate on reducing crashes and curtailing criminal activity along the I-70 corridor across both states.

ISP Districts from Putnamville, Indianapolis and Pendleton will participate.

The joint effort involves state police and highway patrol posts from the West Virginia border to the Illinois border along I-70 from June 4 through Aug. 31.

"What is substantial about this effort is our ability to work with our neighboring state law enforcement agencies to make our highways safer," ISP Captain Bob Burke said.

"We will concentrate on reducing fatal crashes, removing intoxicated drivers and removing the criminal element along this major thoroughfare," Burke continued.

In the Putnamville District specifically, Operation Blue Light patrols will expand beyond I-70 to include U.S. 40.

"Quite frankly, I-70 and U.S. 40 are two of our busiest roadways in the district," said Sgt. Joe Watts of the Putnamville Post. "We are going to be targeting anything and everything that makes driving more hazardous."

Special attention will be paid to construction zones as part of the enforcement effort. This means not only patrolling the construction zones, but taking a look at the secondary roads that see increased traffic because of the construction.

Locals in Putnam, Clay and Vigo counties have voiced their concerns to troopers over increased traffic on U.S. 40, Watts said.

In Putnam County, repaving work is currently being performed between the Cloverdale exit and three miles west of the Putnamville exit.

Patrolling the westernmost part of the state, Watts said Putnamville troopers are also focused on partnerships with Illinois, even if this operation is officially with Ohio.

Together, the three states are responsible for 541 miles of the interstate, and every mile is important.

"The whole detail is designed to work with our neighboring states and to make I-70 as safe as possible," Watts said. "We want to make these 541 miles as safe as possible."

The enforcement effort will include troopers as well as Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Division (CVED) personnel from both Indiana and Ohio.

"It's a natural fit, as we have two like minded agencies coming together to reduce injury and fatal crashes, as well as removing the criminal element from our highways making for a safer Ohio and Indiana," said Lieutenant Jon Payer, Piqua District Criminal Patrol Commander for the Ohio Highway Patrol.

Indiana Troopers will be utilizing fully marked and unmarked Chargers, unmarked Mustangs and Harley Davidson Motorcycles looking for crash causing violations like following too closely, unsafe speed and unsafe lane movement.

Troopers will also be using unmarked white INDOT pickup trucks in construction zones looking for unsafe drivers.

Commercial Vehicle Enforcement personnel in Indiana will be checking trucks for safety violations, fatigued drivers as well as unsafe food shipments.

Scale houses in both states will be utilized to enforce the overweight truck laws and K-9 Units will be utilized to check vehicles and trucks for contraband.

The Indiana State Police remains committed to reducing the number of impaired driving crashes as well as all crashes.

Motorists are encouraged to report suspected impaired drivers by calling 911. Give a vehicle description, location, and direction of travel. Never follow an impaired driver.

Finally, Watts said the patrolling and enforcement effort means also maintaining the areas of concern that are always on the troopers' radar. Locally, that means the area between the 33- and 41-mile markers, where they see a high volume of crashes.

"We want to do everything we can to slow those everyday crashes," Watt said.

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