Oak Park police issued citations to 41 of the 146 drivers stopped Sunday night following the Super Bowl, the latest in a string of roadside safety stops.

Drivers were stopped betweeen 9 p.m. and 2 a.m. at the corner of Madison Street and Grove Avenue.

Since last fall, the department has worked with state police and the Illinois Department of Transportation to mount roadside safety checks at various intersections around the village. Previous checks were conducted on North Avenue, Harlem Avenue and Roosevelt Road during holiday periods.

“We wanted to target the center of the village this time,” said Oak Park Deputy Chief Bob Scianna.

While police wrote no tickets for driving under the influence, they did cite 12 people for no seat belts and two for not having children properly restrained in child seats. Six were arrested for driving on a suspended or revoked license, and 12 cited for having no insurance. There were nine other citations issued for assorted other traffic offenses.

Sgt. Dina Vardal supervised a six-officer crew during the operation.

The operation comes at a time when Oak Park police have also clearly increased their efforts to target drunk drivers within village boundaries. After the first five weeks of 2006, police had arrested 14 drivers for DUI, exactly half the number of DUIs in the first 11 months of 2005, underscoring the department’s emphasis on its “zero tolerance policy toward drunk drivers.”

The issue of lax adherence to speed and other traffic laws was the subject of extended conversation during a village board study session last fall involving top police brass. At that time, Chief Rick Tanksley, addressing concerns expressed by several trustees, said police were working on tightening up enforcement of existing traffic laws.

But Tanksley said Monday that enforcement was only part of the ongoing program. “We don’t want just enforcement,” he said. “We’re looking to get the word out. We want people to know ahead of time.”

Tanksley has taped a spot being broadcast on the village’s cable station, VOP 6, and said police are trying increase awareness with the village newsletter other outlets, too.

Those who don’t pay attention are likely to find out the hard way.

“It’s going to continue,” said Scianna of the safety checks. “We’ve got another one in the works.”

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