University Police prepare for St. Patrick’s Day drunk drivers

by Thomas Douty

University Police will team up with area law enforcement agencies to crack down on drunk drivers tonight for St. Patrick’s Day.
The operation, nighttime concentrated alcohol patrol (NightCAP), is funded by a federal grant and will target drunk drivers in the Twin Cities area.
Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Cheri Frandrup said the concentration of officers in the metro area will make it more likely that drug and alcohol impaired drivers are apprehended.
“People will be stopped for any minor violation we observe,” University Police Lt. Mike Listul said.
Violations could include broken taillights, cracked windshields, license-tab violations or traffic violations.
According to University Police records, there has only been one DWI arrest on campus on St. Patrick’s Day since 1994.
But Listul said the influx of people attending area basketball tournaments, coinciding with the holiday, has police expecting a busy night.
The National Collegiate Athletics Association men’s basketball tournament at the Metrodome and the Minnesota state girl’s high school basketball tournament at Williams Arena will also be drawing crowds to the Minneapolis area.
The Western Collegiate Hockey Association’s Final Five tournament will also continue tonight at the Target Center in downtown Minneapolis.
“There’s a lot of people here now,” Listul said.
NightCAP tends to focus on celebrations that draw a large number of people.
University Police hosted a similar NightCAP operation last October for the Homecoming celebrations. Listul said the weekend was effective overall. There were two DWI violations reported by University Police on that Saturday night.
Listul said University Police will probably host another NightCAP during April’s Spring Jam festivities.
The St. Patrick’s Day operation is hosted by the Metro Transit Police Department. Metro Transit Police Lt. Joe Cardenas said their patrol will focus on main transit routes in Minneapolis.
Miller Brewing Company, Metro Transit and suburban transit providers will also offer free bus rides in the Twin Cities area from 6 p.m. tonight until 3 a.m. Saturday.
“We’re blanketing the Twin Cities with enforcement officers,” Frandrup said in a prepared statement. “If you’re out drinking this holiday weekend, don’t drive … or you will be apprehended.”

Thomas Douty covers police and courts and welcomes comments at [email protected] He can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3233.