First the good news... Fewer people are out on the streets driving drunk. According to our Eyes behind the badge, either because people are getting the message or because of the economic downturn it's getting increasingly difficult to find drivers who've loaded up and started up - which means we're all a little safer these days.
The bad news is that it's getting increasingly difficult to find drivers who've loaded up and started up. Bad news? Yep. When drunks were plentiful on the city's roads, catching them was like shooting fish in a barrel. Simply wait for an illegal lane change or a serving vehicle and odds are you've found a drunk. It seems that these days, the drunks are staying home or finding rides home.
The problem is that the men and women of the DWI unit are having to work a lot harder to keep us safe from the remaining people who just can't seem to get the message. Understand, it's not due to a lack of effort, it's simply because drunk drivers are harder to find these days. We doubt we'll ever see it but, the true measure of the DWI unit's success would be its obsolesence.
Since arrests are the measuring stick by which politicians and bureaucrats determine success, fewer arrests mean trouble for supervisors in the DWI unit. Never fear, Sergeant Josh McDonald has found a simple way to make sure that his unit maintains their arrest numbers... simply require officers to make a certain number of arrests per night.
Of course, quotas in law enforcement are highly illegal - they lead to officer desperation and law enforcement by any means necessary. It doesn't take a lawyer to figure out that quotas lead at the very least to questionable arrests and potential civil rights violations.
As of Friday night, officers in the DWI unit are required to bag 1.75 drivers per night who are allegedly already in the bag. We're really not sure what the hell the .75 thing is about. Does that mean 1 drunk and someone who's 3/4s drunk? Does that mean a BAC of .08 or above and a .06? In any case, it puts pressure on officers to arrest regardless of reasonable suspicion - perhaps even to manufacture arrests.
If an officer fails to meet their quota, they will receive a verbal reprimand. The second "offense" results in a written reprimand. The third quota failure results in removal from the unit. Our Eyes tell us that there is currently a DWI officer on a Personal Improvement Plan (PIP) for failing to meet Sergeant McDonald's quota.
Look, the officers of the DWI unit work hard. A reduction in the number of arrests because there simply aren't as many drunk drivers on the road is a good thing. The officers should receive a pat on the back not reprimands for failing to meet quotas.
This is just another example of poor management and arrogance of The 5th Floor. Just like over in SID, the DWI unit is playing fast and loose with the law. It's a state of affairs that is simply unacceptable. APD must be above reproach and the officers who lead the department must likewise be above reproach.
Certainly responsibility rests with Chief Schultz and his DCs, but ultimately the responsibility for the behavior of APD management rests with the mayor.
The good news is that we're all safer on the roads at night. The bad news is that - thanks to quotas - there's pressue on officers to make arrests regardless of merit.