The Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force deployed 17 officers to Tacoma last Friday night to look for and arrest impaired drivers. The enhanced enforcement, hosted by the Tacoma Police Department, resulted in 17 drivers being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. An additional five misdemeanor and felony drug arrests were made and three people were taken into custody on outstanding warrants. Two were cited for reckless driving.
Officers circulated throughout the city looking for unsafe drivers, but focused their efforts on South Tacoma Way, Pacific Avenue and Sixth Avenue in Tacoma’s North End where numerous past DUI arrests were made. Officers also patrolled Portland and McKinley Avenues on the Eastside where there were a high number of serious injury and fatal DUI collisions.
“We have been teaming up to do these patrols which have been proven to reduce traffic crashes for over a decade,” said John Cheesman, chief of the Fircrest Police Department and chair of the task force. “A little over ten years ago, 76 people died every year on Pierce County’s roadways. Last year, 45 died. Our goal, however impossible it may seem, is zero deaths by 2030,” Chief Cheesman added.
The following night in Tacoma, a 41-year-mother was in a crash after she left the Monster Jam Truck Show. Her eight and 11year old sons, who were in the vehicle with her, died as a result of injuries sustained in the collision. Investigators are determining whether speed and/or alcohol or drugs contributed to the crash.
In conjunction with its 18 active law enforcement partners, the task force is currently gearing up with the Washington State Patrol to put a dedicated team of six to 10 troopers and local law enforcement officers on local city, county and state roads at least four nights every week beginning July 1. The team will be composed of officers and troopers who have solid track records arresting a high number of impaired drivers.
“Adding 16 dedicated patrols a month to those we are already doing,” said Chief Cheesman, “will allow us to bring the death toll down in Pierce County even further. Eventually, we hope to get to zero.”
Participating in last weekend’s special DUI emphasis patrol besides the Tacoma Police Department and the Pierce County Sheriff’s Department were the Steilacoom, Lakewood, Bonney Lake, Sumner and Fife Police Departments. The patrol was funded by local law enforcement agencies as well as the Washington Traffic Safety Commission. It was additionally supported by Pierce County Human Services.