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OWI Task Force Nets But 1 Arrest in 26 Tosa Stops

In all, a metro-wide sweep the night before Thanksgiving resulted in only 16 drunken driving arrests in 214 stops after it was heavily publicized in advance.

 

A program to catch drunken drivers may have done the world one better, in the opinion of local law enforcement agencies.

With plenty of advance notice that a dedicated task force of officers would be on the sharp lookout, only a small percentage of traffic stops Wednesday night and into Thursday morning yielded OWI arrests.

Police officers would like to believe that in part, that was because of the highly publicized effort to make drivers aware they were being watched – and that they behaved better as a result.

Wauwatosa fielded the largest contingent of tasked officers of any metro community, with seven patrols mainly looking for intoxicated drivers. But in 26 stops with some suspicion of drinking drivers, only one arrest was made, of a 33-year-old Milwaukee woman (below).

Throughout the area, only 16 OWI arrests were made in 214 stops.

"We certainly applaud all of those stopped who were not driving under the influence," said Brookfield Police Capt. Phil Horter, the media officer for the area-wide effort. "Voluntary compliance is what we are attempting to achieve. Our goal is to keep all of the motoring public safe, especially during the holiday season."

Twelve municipal police departments, including Milwaukee, and the State Patrol participated in the High-Visibility Enforcement OWI Task Force deployment Wednesday, and for the first time, the group did its best to let everyone know they were out there.

Streetside roll calls were held at high-traffic intersections at the start of the shift, with the western suburbs gathered at North Mayfair and Blue Mound roads. Media were invited to photograph and film, with the hope that rather than officers simply catching more drunken drivers, perhaps fewer people would dare to drive drunk.

With just a 7.5 percent arrest rate against contacts with suspicious drivers, it may have worked.

Task Force officers stay on the lookout for erratic driving or the kind of violations that may signal a driver is impaired, such as lane deviations and rolled stop lights. Wauwatosa officers, in their 26 stops, did issue 12 traffic tickets for driving infractions, but only one driver proved to show probable cause for an OWI arrest.

"With this being our first try at this strategy, I anticipated some bumps in the road, but everyone did a great job and really stepped up with great suggestions for future deployments," said Wauwatosa Police Lt. Tim Sharpee.

Sharpee didn't hesitate with advance notice on the next rounds for drivers to be aware of.

"Our next deployments will be on Dec. 15th and 31st," Sharpee said. "We are looking to do another street corner roll call for the Dec. 31st deployment."

Driver stopped for multiple infractions, arrested

In the Task Force's single Wauwatosa OWI arrest, a first offense, a 33-year-old Milwaukee woman was stopped at 11:19 p.m. Wednesday after a patrol officer saw her make a sudden unsignaled lane change and then clocked her at up to 20 mph over the speed limit on North Mayfair Road.

The officer reported that while he followed, the woman also repeatedly straddled lane markers and, after turning right onto Watertown Plank Road, "accelerated briskly away from me."

He pulled in behind her when she turned into the Milwaukee County Children's Court Center parking lot and questioned her. He said he immediately smelled alcohol when he spoke to her, and she needed to hold onto her car for balance while she tried to perform field sobriety tests.

She blew a .132 blood alcohol concentration on a preliminary breath test and later a .11 on an evidentiary test, despite claiming she'd had only one drink – or maybe one and a half.

alt ideas needed November 27, 2012 at 01:01 AM
can we get a pic of the drunk driver - we need to shame these people
Jim Price November 27, 2012 at 01:19 AM
Can't run pictures until we can name them, can't name them until they are charged. Joe Petrie, our intrepid Patch courts reporter, is always on the lookout for them once they are charged. OWIs frequently are not charged out for about six weeks.
Ray Ray Johnson November 27, 2012 at 12:51 PM
25 innocent citizens harassed, inconvenienced, and subjected to violations of their constitutionally protected rights against unwarranted search. Yes, one person was arrested, but all this initiave does is sell the public on why it's in their best interests to lay down their freedom under the benevolent gift of improved safety. I argue that at any given time, the odds are the same of the same proportion of drunk drivers on the road. The story itself states that the woman was pulled over for multiple infractions. Would she not have been pulled over if the rights of non-drunk drivers were not blessed to be violated? Are there drunk drivers on the road right now, as I type? This was an offensive abuse of power, and an insult to free people, which is probably my idealistic fantasy; clearly, there are no free people. I think the 25 non-drunk drivers should band together and file a lawsuit. Don't misunderstand me, it's good that the drunk was busted and taken off the road, but to reiterate, would she have gone undetected for her multiple infractions if this initiative was not in effect?
Ray Ray Johnson November 27, 2012 at 12:57 PM
Lets publish pictures of the 25 non-violaters getting detained for field trials by the cops. We need to expose aggregious ifringements on freedom of the people.
paul hruz November 28, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Ray Ray go back and read the story the others were pulled over for such things as not stopping before turning right on red and lane deviations, seeing most did not get tickets they should be thanking the police instead of sueing them as you think they should. Frankly Ray Ray you are an idiot.
Ray Ray Johnson November 28, 2012 at 11:26 AM
Spoken like one of the true brainwashed sheep lining up to surrender your freedom under the guise of protection and safety. Why not allow the police to go door to door looking for contrabnd? Why not let the police select a few certain days of the year when they can sweep your home and the homes on your block for presciption pills that don't belong to you, sales reciepts for guns you own, financial records that may implicate you in something? Wouldn't it be more effective to pull over every single customer who leaves a bar and get in their car? Why isn't THAT legal? I'll tell you why. Because it's not about the DWI arrest; it's about you getting desensitized to such a Brown Shirt philosophy. It's about you getting used to it. Are you used to it? After all, you've had 10+ years of the TSA wringing out the diapers of people like you in public. Why not move the shakedowns out on the streets and closer to home? Return to your TV, Sheep, this will probably all resolve happily in 1/2 hour.

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