Monday, November 1, 2010

Checkpoint Strikeforce

The United States Park Police and the Washington Regional Alcohol Program teamed up for the kick off of Operation Checkpoint Strikeforce to combat drunk driving.

This event took place on October 28, 2010.

This effort is designed to combat the scourge of drunk driving with a particular focus of the increase of offenses in the upcoming holiday season.

Washington Regional Alcohol Program also provides a “Sober Ride” service where taxis are contracted to return people home who otherwise might be drunk drivers.

For this event, we had a strong media presence getting our message out. We featured highly visual demonstrations of what drunk drivers look like and how their psychomotor skills are impacted.

Officers from the United States Park Police Traffic Safety Unit solicited volunteers to consume measured alcohol doses and submit to period testing of breath alcohol levels and Standardized Field Sobriety tests. These results vividly demonstrated to the reporters the challenges in detecting drunk drivers, but also the skills police officers have developed in combating these offenses.

The demonstration included drivers navigating a cone course while wearing “Fatal Vision” eyewear. These lenses simulate a specific blood alcohol level, in this case .17% bac. Many cones were knocked down; each could have been an innocent pedestrian.

While many may think that getting volunteers to drink alcohol is just a fun way to spend a day, the reasons are deadly serious. The volunteers seemed to enjoy themselves, but they were required to submit to stringent internal controls. These volunteers were required to be transported to and from their homes by police personnel, submit to a basic medical screening before and after the event, and were precluded from operating any vehicles for a specific time period.

This event happened on Hains Point in Washington, DC. Since this area is declared off limits for alcohol consumption by the Superintendant, the United States Park Police received a waiver for the event to allow only the two volunteers to drink for educational and public awareness purposes under close monitoring.

We would like to thank our partners in the National Park Service National Capital Region, Washington Regional Alcohol Program, and Stratacomm Communications for spreading the message of the hazards of impaired driving.