Patricia Cahill, Executive Director, IACP Foundation; Strategic Plan Administrator, IACP; and Advisor to the National Chiefs Challenge Program
riday, December 19, 2003–Sunday, January 4, 2004, mark the official dates for the You Drink & Drive . . . You Lose national crackdown to deter impaired driving. This holiday period is one of the most heavily traveled times on America's highways and represents an ideal opportunity for your agency to engage in sustained, high-visibility enforcement efforts. Before your officers and troopers hit the streets, try getting your impaired driving program started with some simple, achievable strategies.
Create and Build Partnerships
As a law enforcement executive, you are in a unique position to reach out to community leaders for assistance in combating the impaired driving problem. Work with local health care organizations or hospitals to emphasize that impaired driving is not only a violent crime but also a health care issue. Reach out to local business owners for in-kind support; perhaps they will donate goods or services to print impaired driving awareness signs for your community. If faith-based organizations are influential in your area, try working with religious leaders to spread the enforcement message during services.
Identify Your Challenge
What is the nature of the impaired driving problem in your jurisdiction? Do most of your arrests involve first-time offenders, hardcore drunk drivers, underage offenders, or males age 21-25? In this time of increased demand and decreased reserves for law enforcement, it is more critical than ever to maximize your resources and strike accurately and efficiently at the problem.
Whatever the trend for impaired driving in your community, once you have identified it, what are you going to do about it? What is your goal for the 2003 holiday season? Setting realistic, achievable targets for your officers and your agency gives everyone involved a sense of purpose. Whether your objective is to successfully partner with the community, conduct a certain amount of saturation patrols or sobriety checkpoints, or achieve the ambitious feat of zero alcohol-related crashes, make sure the goals for your officers are clearly established, communicated, and put into motion.
Plan, Implement, and Evaluate
Now that you have identified the impaired driving problem in your neighborhoods, prepared and collaborated with the appropriate partners, and set attainable goals, it is time to implement your impaired driving crackdown.
Two of the most valuable tools in your highway safety arsenal are sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols. Read more about ways to improve your efforts in these two areas at http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/alcohol/saturation_patrols. This is where you will find NHTSA's annual 3D Month planner online, complete with planning guides, media outreach tools, fact sheets, printable posters, and logos.
Remember, this is an excellent time to collect data. Conducting pre- and postevent surveys on impaired driving arrests, crashes, injuries, and fatalities will improve your ability to assess agency performance. It is a relatively quick and simple way to reflect successful enforcement efforts from month to month or year to year. (In addition, this is exactly the kind of data you will need have on hand when you complete the 2003 National Chiefs Challenge application. For more information on the Chiefs Challenge, call Richard Ashton at 800-THE-IACP, extension 276, or send an e-mail message to him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)