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Police department gets ‘MADD’ at drunk drivers: Carrollton PD says drunk driving is major concern for department
Drunken driving is nothing new — it’s something police departments have been battling for years. The problem is of particular importance to the state of Texas, which has the second-largest amount of annual alcohol-related accidents, according to MADD.org.
“Last year, the staff assisted more than 4,000 victims of drunken driving incidents,” said Jeff Miracle, MADD Dallas executive director.
On a local level, The Colony Police Department made 72 DWI arrests in 2011, representing 4 percent of the total 2,058 arrests in the city. This number does not include DUI Minor charges, since individuals do not have to be intoxicated to be charged. The city also had 191 public intoxication arrests in 2011, representing 9 percent of total charges in the city.
More recently, from Jan. 1 through Aug. 31, 55 people were arrested for DWIs and 119 were arrested for public intoxication. If arrest rations remain on the current track, officials say the department will see nearly 2,300 arrests, 91 of which would be DWI related.
Darren Brockway, public information officer for the department, said if drivers could witness the devastation drunk driving accidents have on families as it happens, it would make most people think before driving while intoxicated.
“In my 23 years of law enforcement, some of the most horrific scenes that seem to linger are the traffic fatalities involving a drunk driver,” he said. “Not only can some of those scenes be extremely gruesome, but part of our job in law enforcement is notifying the deceased's next of kin. Waking up a spouse, parent, or other beloved family member in the middle of the night to tell them their loved one has been killed, seems to haunt me more than anything else an officer has to endure.”
In an effort to do just that, the department has become involved with the “Shattered Dreams” program put on by the area’s TABC agents. This program gets wrecked cars and has students from The Colony High School reenact a fatality accident scene complete with police and fire emergency vehicles — in addition to a Care Flight Helicopter — to participate in the reenactment.
“The scene is reenacted in the street of TCHS and takes place around the time of area high school proms,” Brockway said. “It also follows a week long anti-drinking and driving campaign.”
With the size of the department and the personnel allotted, The Colony Police Department found the best way to curtail drunken driving is through preventative measures, in addition to enforcement, Brockway said.
“The traffic division allots officers to work DWI enforcement in conjunction with the state declared enforcement weekends — like Labor Day weekend,” he said. “Prevention-wise, our agency takes two approaches. You may have noticed that the arrests for public intoxication is double that of DWI. I always think, ‘How many of those people who were arrested for PI were eventually going to be driving a vehicle at some point?’”
Detectives from the criminal investigations division will at times pose as patrons at local bars and arrest other patrons who are obviously intoxicated before they can get behind a wheel and drive, Brockway said.
“What is ironic about drunk driving accidents is that although it is one of the most devastating events that has the potential to generate so much tragedy, it is also one of the most preventable,” Brockway said. “Simply handing the keys to a sober driver or getting a ride is all the action one needs to do in order to not become a part of a troublesome statistic.”
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