DWI battle intensified

CNJ staff photo: Tony Bullocks Ashlea Sink serves customers Tuesday at Webb’s Watering Hole. Sink said she supports efforts to curb drinking and driving and has no problem cutting off customers who have had too much to drink.

By Sharna Johnson: Freedom Newspapers

Clovis police are doubling up their efforts against drunken driving this year over last year.

With a required number of DWI enforcement operations needed to satisfy grant requirements, the department will conduct 40 saturation patrols and 13 checkpoints by the end of the year, according to Clovis Police Lt. Richard Johnson.

In 2006, there were eight checkpoints and 20 saturation patrols.

Grant money increased this fiscal year by 37 percent, allowing for more enforcement operations, Johnson said.

Since January, there have been 22 saturation patrols, netting 14 DWI arrests, according to Sgt. Robert Denney.

The most recent, conducted Saturday, netted four DWI arrests, Denney said.

Denney said saturation patrols and checkpoints each have their strong points toward effectiveness.

“Checkpoints are great for high visibility and for high number of contacts (with the public),” he said. The downside, he said, is drivers may avoid a known checkpoint location.

With saturation patrols, Denney said, mobile officers on the streets watch for signs of intoxicated drivers and are able to cover more ground without the predictability of a checkpoint.

Together the combination of techniques makes for a more complete attack on DWIs, Johnson said.

Operation DWI is funded through a state grant that pays overtime for the officers and requires public service announcements be made, Denney said.

Officers who participate in the patrols work outside normally scheduled shifts.

The department is also required, in exchange for the grant funding, to turn in numbers of arrests, stops and citations issued, Denney said.

Ashlea Sink of Webb’s Watering Hole said she supports police efforts in trying to combat drunken driving.

A bartender and server, she said she has no problem cutting customers off if they have had too much to drink.

“Someone can get mad at me for cutting them off but I’d rather see you tomorrow and (have you) hold a grudge than not see you at all,” Sink said.

The 21-year-old said she has lost friends to drunken driving and supports anything that can help save lives.

She often offers rides to customers she knows well and said she has even offered cab fare to get someone home.

“Nobody’s family deserves to lose anyone. I’m never hesitant to get someone home safely. That makes me happier.”

By the numbers
28
DWI enforcement operations implemented in 2006

53
DWI enforcement operations slated for 2007

$30, 246
Received for Operation DWI by Clovis Police Department for 2006

$41,447
Received for Operation DWI by Clovis Police Department for 2007