STEP Initiatives

In an effort to increase problem-led and data-driven policing, Sheriff Blackman created the STEP Initiatives. STEP stands for Sheriff's Targeted Enforcement Program. These initiatives will tackle issues that are important to Highlands County residents. 

STEP 77 took place from October of 2018 through March of 2019. Signal 77 is the radio code for a traffic infraction, and the initiative focused on reducing accidents at the dangerous intersections on U.S. 27. 

The Uniform Patrol Division used the SARA Model (Scan, Analyze, Respond, Assess) to identify the high-crash intersections that would be targeted during the STEP 77 initiative. Deputies then conducted traffic enforcement at those intersections at various times throughout the six-month time frame. 

As a result, the number of crashes at those intersections was reduced by 20.4 percent compared to the same time frame the previous year. Fatalities were down even more -- 33 percent. During that span, deputies made 7,090 traffic contacts resulting from infractions in the target zones. They wrote 2,326 citations, gave out 3,085 written warnings, 1,649 verbal warnings and made 30 DUI arrests. 

Deputy using laser speed checking device
Deputies conducting traffic enforcement

The next initiative, STEP 12 was launched in August of 2019. Also slated to run six months, this initiative is focused on residential neighborhood streets, targeting reckless driving (Signal 12 is radio code for a reckless driver) and ATV riders. 

STEP 12 is also led by the Uniform Patrol Division, which has used the SARA model to identify problem areas. The initiative also focuses on school zones and crossings and areas near public parks and recreational facilities.

As part of the initiative, residents were invited to request a traffic sign urging drivers to "drive like your kids live here." For the first 100 people who requested signs, deputies will at some point during the six months conduct traffic enforcement on their street. 

Drive Like Your Kids Live Here sign