The city of Hopkins has a new, full-time officer on DWI patrol, courtesy of a $500,000 state grant that covers four years' of his salary and overtime, training, equipment — and a new squad car to boot.
Officer Chris Peterson started his duties as the dedicated DWI enforcer in June. Peterson was selected for his "strong history of impaired-driving arrests and a solid work record with removing impaired drivers from the road," said Hopkins Police Sgt. Michael Glassberg. "We wanted someone who is very enthusiastic about [patrolling for] impaired driving."
The grant is linked to a national safety program, Toward Zero Deaths.
The goal is to reduce drunken driving through enforcement, education and high visibility. Glassberg said he hopes the dedicated patrol officer will help reduce impaired driving not only by making arrests, but by being a highly visible reminder of the potential costs of driving impaired.
The city hopes to increase DWI arrests by 25 percent this year — from 98 in 2014 to 123 this year. The city also wants to reduce alcohol-related crashes by about the same percentage, from 18 in 2014 to 15 this year. With a lively bar and restaurant scene in Hopkins, Glassberg said city police already work closely with owners and staff.
"We do a lot of education with our local establishments to avoid overserving," he said. "In my experience, many of the [arrests] have come not only from on-sale establishments, but from holiday parties."
Peterson, the enforcement officer, will be scheduled to work at times when statistics show there's the most DWI activity.
He'll generally be scheduled from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m., and the grant requires him to work two Fridays and two Saturdays a month.
His primary patrol area will be within the city limits.
The city pays for maintenance and fuel for the state-purchased squad car.