The Patrol Division is responsible for the initial investigation of most criminal offenses and motor vehicle crashes. They provide services that are often found in suburban communities that are unavailable to larger municipalities, such as assisting people who are locked out of their vehicle, checking vacant properties and homes where people are away on vacation, and in the satellite patrol area, getting involved in concerns and interests of the residents that are perceived as "quality-of-life" issues through a modified community policing program.
The Bethlehem Police Department takes a pro-active role with regards to traffic safety. All officers regularly enforce traffic laws in residential areas as well as on major highways and in special areas that have been identified as potential hazards.
The town is divided into four patrol zones as determined by the number and type of calls for service. Zone 1 covers Slingerlands and North Bethlehem, Zone 2 covers Delmar and Elsmere, Zone 3 covers Glenmont and parts of Delmar, and Zone 4 covers Selkirk, South Bethlehem and part of Glenmont.
Traffic Safety is a broad area of responsibility for all police agencies and the Bethlehem Police Department has a history of aggressive, consistent and fair enforcement. Along with enforcement and equally important is education, and providing information to drivers, walkers, joggers, bicyclists and in-line skaters is a departmental priority. The purpose of any traffic safety program is to inform the public, prevent or reduce the number of fatalities and injuries, and to reduce property damage caused by motor vehicle crashes. There is broad public support for this effort and traffic safety programs are carried out by every municipality in the state, some of which are specially funded with specific goals and objectives.
Our traffic safety efforts are consistent with national programs and target speed enforcement, occupant restraint compliance and zero tolerance for operating a vehicle while intoxicated or impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Albany County Stop-DWI Program
The Albany County Special Traffic Options Program is focused on the enforcement of the Driving While Intoxicated or Impaired laws and provides payments to localities for enforcement, training, education and equipment. Funding comes from fines collected for DWI/DWAI convictions in local courts, which are then turned back to the municipalities through local grants which are administered by the county.
Locally, statewide and nationally, programs such as STOP DWI have directly contributed to the reduction in the number of alcohol related crashes and the deaths and injuries resulting there from. Victim Impact Panels, the first of which was presented at the Bethlehem Central Senior High School, as part of this effort have personalized the tragedies resulting from drinking and driving and has increased public awareness as to the seriousness of the problem and the commitment on the part of law enforcement to prevent the unnecessary loss of lives.
The Chief of Police, as a member of the Albany County Traffic Safety Board, is able to assure the department's participation in all regional efforts. Further, the distribution of federal and state funds to police agencies in Albany County must be done with the approval of this board and the Chief's membership provides greater access for the town's share of these funds.
Alcohol Awareness Program
Our Alcohol Awareness Program complements our enforcement efforts by providing information to our residents and their children by becoming part of a community wide effort to intervene with people at risk or people who put themselves at risk, before they suffer medical, legal, emotional or family problems resulting from the use or abuse of alcohol.
The Bethlehem Central High School Chapter of S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Drivers) works closely with our traffic safety personnel in an anti-drunk driving campaign. Every entrance to the town now has signs proclaiming, "This is a S.A.D.D. Community, Drive Sober", reflecting our commitment to a cooperative town wide effort in removing the drunk driver from the road.