Party weekend prompts strong police patrol

Megan Boldt

Police officers from four different agencies issued 171 citations this weekend during a saturation patrol targeting drunken driving, according to University Police reports.
Twenty additional officers from the Minnesota State Patrol, Minneapolis Police Department, Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office and University Police patrolled the campus during Homecoming night.
About 300 cars were pulled over between 9 p.m. Saturday and 3 a.m. Sunday for traffic violations. Officers arrested 17 people for driving under the influence of alcohol.
“Taking 17 impaired drivers off the road is a great success,” said University Police Capt. Steve Johnson. “That eliminates potential accidents or even fatalities.”
But Johnson said police did not track the number of tickets issued to students.
Police issued nine tickets to drivers with invalid licenses; seven citations for open-bottle offenses; seven tickets for underage drinking and driving; and two citations for drug violations.
Officers also issued 44 speeding tickets and 16 equipment-violation citations.
During a similar saturation patrol in April, 376 drivers were either ticketed or arrested.
Johnson said this fall’s decrease in arrests and tickets might have resulted from increased police efforts to forewarn students about the patrol.
He said the festive night seemed pretty tame while he patrolled the area in his squad car.
“The streets were pretty quiet compared to years past,” he said.
Of victims who died in 1998 car crashes, 42 percent died in alcohol-related accidents, according to state Department of Public Safety figures.
In 1997, about 30 percent of car-accident fatalities were caused by drunken drivers — the lowest percentage in state history.
Johnson said another saturation patrol will occur during Spring Jam week.

Megan Boldt covers police and welcomes comments at [email protected] She can also be reached at (612) 627-4070 x3224.