Police saturation results in more than 300 citations

by Sarah McKenzie

Police officers from four law enforcement agencies issued 376 arrests or citations Friday and early Saturday morning in areas around the University and northeast Minneapolis.
With the goal of keeping drunken drivers off the streets, more than 400 cars were pulled over by officers working the Safe & Sober NightCAP patrol. Officers handed out 18 DWI citations during the course of the night.
“We were able to take the impaired drivers off the road,” said State Patrol Lt. David Graham. “It was a very good saturation.”
The officers began to target drivers committing minor traffic infractions shortly after 6 p.m.
More than 20 officers patrolled streets and highways near Second Precinct neighborhoods, which includes the University, as part of the saturation patrol.
Graham coordinated the effort and said that public safety in the area should improve as a result of the crackdown on drunken drivers, especially considering a number of those pulled over were taken in for outstanding warrants.
The number of citations is one of the largest since the program’s inception in October 1997, he said. The saturation patrol is conducted twice a month in various parts of the Twin Cities.
Besides the 376 arrests, Minnesota Department of Public Safety figures show 159 drivers were issued speeding citations and 48 picked up seat belt tickets.
The Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office, the State Patrol and the Minneapolis and University police departments contributed officers to the patrol.
The University Police were notified of the initiative on short notice, Graham said. They were not able to devote many officers to the effort.
State Patrol Capt. Dale Stack said officers must have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to pull over drivers during the sweep. He said few citizens make formal complaints to the police about the aggressive style of patrolling.
Stack noted that police issued 11 citations for minor consumption during the patrol. Police issued some drivers under the age of 21 a ticket for having a small amount of alcohol in their system.
University Police arrested a 30-year-old man for drunken driving after officers observed him swerving in a lane near Oak Street and Washington Avenue Southeast.
Graham said police did not concentrate the stops in any one area. He said officers drove around the neighborhoods targeted for the patrol, but did not hang outside of bars waiting to arrest drivers as they headed home.