Police officers put a cap on drunk drivers in northeast and campus neighborhoods

by Sarah McKenzie

Tonight more than 20 police officers will swarm areas near campus in search of drunk drivers and other delinquent motorists.
On a typical Friday night, only a handful of officers patrol the roads around campus.
But this evening, officers from four local law enforcement agencies will conduct a Safe & Sober NightCAP patrol throughout northeast Minneapolis and neighborhoods near the University campus.
The State Patrol, the Hennepin County Sheriff’s Department and the Minneapolis and University Police Departments will join forces to crack down on intoxicated drivers.
Officers are primarily trying to deter drunk driving, organizers said. On average, 30 percent of traffic deaths are alcohol-related, according to statistics provided by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
The University Police Department will join the effort for the first time, said State Patrol Lt. David Graham. He said the saturation patrols have taken place at different locations within the metro area since October 1997.
University Police Sgt. Jo Anne Benson said the University Police will not increase the number of officers on duty to aid in the effort.
“We stress that officers look for all different types of violations,” Graham said. “There is no quota system for arrests, however.”
Graham said he could not provide figures on the number of arrests made during the patrols, but said cars are routinely stopped for minor traffic infractions or small offenses like broken taillights.
While targeting petty offenses to increase DWI (driving while intoxicated) arrests might seem inordinate, Graham said the ultimate purpose is to keep drunk drivers off the streets.
“It would make us tremendously happy if there was voluntary compliance,” Graham said, referring to the drunk driving laws. “Unfortunately, it doesn’t happen that way very often.”