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Police step up patrols, vigilance on New Year’s Eve

State and local police will employ a variety of tactics and techniques Saturday night, as they work the road on New Year’s Eve. For many agencies, that’s the busiest night of the year for alcohol-related arrests.
Harrison County Sheriff G. Michael Deatrick said there will be about seven road officers patrolling in all parts of the county that night.
‘To let everybody know that we are out there,’ Deatrick said of the stepped-up patrols. ‘So nobody will be slam-dunked without knowing it.’
Deatrick said his officers will be making traffic stops of any vehicle that appears suspicious, and drivers will be subject to field sobriety tests if they appear impaired.
‘For some reason we’re getting a little increase in drinking and driving,’ he said.
New Year’s Eve stands out as the busiest night of the year for his department, Deatrick said, adding that although he realizes people will drink at parties that night, he hopes they will be responsible.
‘If they’re going to party, make sure they have a designated driver,’ he added. ‘We want everybody to have a good time and make it home alive.’
Passengers who have been drinking may also be subject to public intoxication charges if they do not cooperate, when a vehicle they are riding in is pulled over, Deatrick said.
Indiana State Police Cpl. Steve Didat said the ISP is not planning roadblocks; however, additional officers generally volunteer to make overtime pay, working the roads to provide additional police visibility on New Year’s. Didat said people who drink at parties in towns or cities may be able to call a taxi or friend for a ride home, while those partying in rural areas may be wise to spend the night and sober up before leaving.
Crawford County Sheriff Richard Scott said his department does not have the manpower to bring in additional officers for the night, so it will operate on a regular schedule with no increased patrols or sobriety checkpoints. But that doesn’t mean officers working that night won’t be on the lookout for drunk drivers, particularly among underage people.
Scott said he has seen changes in the public’s attitude towards drunk driving during his long career in law enforcement; however, there are still several people every New Year’s who are arrested for driving under the influence.
‘I think people are a little bit more aware and responsible than they used to be,’ he added.
Scott cautioned people who might not use alcohol regularly but choose to drink at New Year’s parties to be aware of alcohol’s affects on them and their judgment.
‘It doesn’t take much to test that .08,’ he said of the state’s blood-alcohol standard for intoxication.
Crawford officers will also be patrolling county roads as well as main highways that night, Scott said, adding that those patrols will not be restricted to any certain section of the county.
He asked that drivers be careful when traveling from one party to another and reminded party hosts to be mindful of the level of intoxication of guests at their parties, particularly if those guests decide to drive home.
Harrison County Dep. Prosecutor Lauren Wheatley said the holiday season, including New Year’s Eve, has a greater average of drunk driving cases, accidents and fatalities.
‘New Year’s Eve is a big night for that,’ Wheatley said. ‘We are definitely behind the sheriff’s department, town police and state police stepping up patrols.’
Scott agreed, saying that occasionally people who have no prior criminal record find themselves in jail for an alcohol-related arrest around the holidays. He added that the cost of the incident, affect on automobile insurance rates and stigma from being arrested might dissuade people from driving drunk, but it has little affect.
‘You’d think it would be enough of a deterrent, but it’s not,’ he added.