SPOKANE, Wash. – Spokane Police recently dedicated two officers to DUI enforcement.
The two officers have already made more than a hundred arrests in just a few short months. Budget cuts over the last few years kept the Spokane Police Department from having officers dedicated to DUI Enforcement. Thanks to a grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, that is no longer the case.
In October, the department put two officers on DUI patrols. In just three months, those two alone have made 106 DUI related arrests.
"What you're seeing is if they weren't out there these people would be getting away with it maybe we wouldn't be coming across them," Sgt. John Griffin with the SPD Traffic Unit said.
With the high number of arrests, SPD officials said it is clear there is a huge need for DUI patrols.
"We're coming across people that aren't just repeat offenders, they're your normal everyday person who's gone out to a bar to a party had too much to drink and then gotten behind the wheel of the car," Griffin said.
One officer is paid for by the grant, the police department then matched that and added a second officer paid for by the city. Both officers are drug recognition experts. That means they have gone through specialized training to detect more than just alcohol.
"They've got a broader knowledge base in taking impaired drivers off the road because alcohol isn't the only impairment," Griffin explained.
With two officers, that means DUI patrols happen every night of the week. The officers target intersections in high collision areas where DUI offenders have been arrested in the past. This means they are not just downtown, they move all over the City. Evaluating an impaired driver can take a lot of time. Having two officers dedicated to impaired drivers also means officers on patrol have more time to respond to other calls like property crimes.
SPD hopes to extend the grant to keep these officers for the next two years.