Azusa PD receives anti-DUI grant

The Azusa Police Department recently received a grant of $39,500 to set up DUI checkpoints in Azusa. The Office of Traffic Safety, which received the grant, plans to use the money to set up two checkpoints this year. Although the dates, times and locations of the checkpoints have not been decided on, traffic supervisor at the Azusa Police Department Corporal Dean Brewer suggested a location near APU might be chosen.

“We don’t really have many bars here [in Azusa] as we used to have, so it’s not like we can pick a location next to a bar because we just don’t have many of those,” Brewer said. “So that area on Alosta [near the school] is looking ripe one time or another for a check point.”

Mobilization for the Azusa PD took place on Sunday, Dec. 30 of last year. The next anti-DUI checkpoint will be sometime in the middle of March, although a specific date and location have not yet been chosen. This upcoming one will not be a part of the state mobilization, but will be a part of the Azusa PD’s quarterly anti-DUI checkpoints.

Brewer said the only effect the checkpoint would most likely have on students is slower traffic.

“We keep the lines as fast a possible, so if it starts to back up, we move traffic along as fast as possible,” Brewer said. “So other than a little slow down, just wave at your friendly police officer and drive on through.”

The federal grant, which totaled $39,581, was given to the Azusa PD in October of 2012 and will remain active until September of 2013. The grant was given to the Azusa PD for four anti-DUI checkpoints.

“The grant was primarily for overtime for setting up DUI check points and we have four of them scheduled for this year,” Brewer said. “Two of the checkpoints are during the holiday saturation which coincides with what the state is doing, which is Labor Day weekend and the Christmas holiday.”

Brewer explained that Azusa PD chooses locations for their anti-DUI checkpoints with several factors in mind.

“We try to do our check points where the statistics indicate that we have a higher percentage of DUI drivers, whether by DUI arrests or by traffic collisions that involved people who have been drinking,” Brewer said. “The other thing we have to keep into consideration though is logistics. If we have a significant problem in an area but we have no way to set up a safe check point in the middle of the roadway without making the officers safe and making the support staff safe and the driver safe then we have a hard time doing it there.”

Even after a date and location are decided upon, the Azusa PD will not release this information publicly in order to increase the effect of the anti-DUI checkpoints.

“We try to keep it [location and date of the checkpoint] confidential,” Brewer said. “The most benefit we get off of a checkpoint is just the advertisement of putting the checkpoint out there. It’s like a $9,000 billboard. And apparently it’s working because nationwide California does the most checkpoints and nationwide California has the best response and the lowest drunk driving traffic collision statistics.”

The goal of anti-DUI checkpoints is not to capture drunk drivers, but to create awareness among the public about the dangers of drunk driving.

“It’s not so much about capturing the drunk drivers as it is educating the public,” Brewer said. “If someone does come through, we will do what we can to appropriately identify the drunk driver and arrest them. But it isn’t there to make the arrests, it’s there to keep the public aware and everybody paying attention to maybe having a designated driver.”

Brewer relates anti-DUI checkpoints to advertisements and in that way they act to create public awareness.

“It’s like listening to a Super Bowl ad on television. You realize they had to pay millions of dollars for that ad and you wonder how much more product could they have made with that million dollars,” Brewer said. “But apparently advertising works because it’s the standard, everybody advertises if they want their business to do well. It’s the same thing with the checkpoint.”

The grant money is first allocated through the National Highway Traffic Safety Association (NHTSA) and then passed on to the California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) who then pass out the grant money to different police departments in California.

“There are myriads of police departments all asking for money so they have to make the decision of who gets how much money,” Brewer said. “We ask for the grant. If a police department asks for too much, then OTS can either cut it down and or say try again next year. So we try to be reasonable with what we’re asking for so we have a higher likelihood of getting it.”

Junior biology major Abaigeal Mleziva believes that anti-DUI checkpoints are worth the time and money the Azusa PD will spend.

“I think it’s a good idea. The pros are that the accidents and deaths due to drunk driving are diminished,” Mleziva said. “The only cons are that it’s slightly inconvenient and it uses police resources and time. But I think the pros outweigh the cons.”