In 2011, Des Plaines was awarded $116,190, the third-largest Sustained Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) grant from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT). According to IDOT, Des Plaines city leaders told IDOT that paperwork submitted for the grant might have included arrests made by officers who weren’t actually working on grant-funded time. IDOT cut off the grant, and Des Plaines began an internal city investigation. A police commander, who was assigned to managing the STEP grant program, resigned immediately after the grant was suspended.
Des Plaines has not released the number of police officers involved, and has not released the identities of any of the police officers.
STEP grants involve funding for police department operations that include roadside safety checks, roving saturation patrols that check for DUI drivers, seat belt violations and other safety violation. The safety checks are usually conducted around holidays, such as Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, Labor Day, Christmas; or events, such as the Super Bowl.
Des Plaines police joined Cook County Sheriff’s Starcom radio dispatching system, and encrypted their police radio communications so that public safety dispatch communications could not be monitored by news media and public citizens — also in 2011.
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