Citizen Reporting of DUI- Extra Eyes to Identify Impaired Driving
I attended roll call at 10 p.m. at the 2nd District Police Station in Bethesda, Maryland. Approximately 16 officers were present.
Task Force Stats sheets were handed out to officers with strict instructions to turn them in by 2:45a.m. Officer William Morrison noted the importance of keeping stats to continue receiving grant money that will fund overtime. They track Alco citations by less than age 18, 18–20, and 21 and older, DUI/DWI, Alcohol Restricted Licenses, warnings (verbal or written), SERO's, criminal arrests due to alcohol, CDS (which is under the influence of drugs), party complaints, breath tests, and DRE exams.
Officer Morrison explained the Extra Eyes program to officers during roll call. Some officers were new or fairly new to working the Bethesda area and to working with the Extra Eyes program. Officer Morrison announced what radio channel the Extra Eyes team would be on, what type of car the volunteers were driving, and that officers must get their own probable cause when following up on an Extra Eyes call-in. In an emergency situation, he explained that it was all right to make a stop on just the Extra Eyes volunteers’ observations.
We left the station and got on the road about 10:30 p.m. This was a Saturation Patrol night; the extra officers on overtime were paid for by a State Grant. There were 16 officers in Bethesda downtown area. One Extra Eyes team participated in their own civilian vehicle.
First, I rode with Sgt. Croom in his patrol car and interviewed him about his Extra Eyes experiences. Then I rode with the Extra Eyes team for about 2 hours before we parked the car in a Bethesda parking garage for 30 minutes, for continued stationary observations. (When in Bethesda, this Extra Eyes team usually drives around for the first couple of hours to see which bars are hopping.)
During the evening, the Extra Eyes team put out about seven observations via the radio while I was in the car (more had been called in when I was driving with the Sgt. Croom earlier in the evening, but I am not sure how many). One volunteer drove while the other operated the radio and made reports to the officers. They definitely saw cues based on their training and experience that I did not see, all of which seemed reasonable once explained to me. They discussed what was observed quickly before deciding to call it in. The volunteer driver was very skilled at observations. The other volunteer was pretty good but took advice and direction when deciding what to call in. Police officers were eager to follow up on the observations. We got some feedback from the officers on some of the calls, but not all.
This was a much slower night than usual, probably because in late August, many people are out of town for vacations, so the Extra Eyes team called it an early night. Because the Extra Eyes volunteers called it a night at about 1:15 a.m., there was no wrap-up at the station. There did not appear to be any arrests due to Extra Eyes observations this night.
It would be useful for the Extra Eyes team to receive feedback from officers, so volunteers can learn from their professional experience. However, on busy nights, time is at a minimum. One suggestion would be for officers and volunteers to meet back at the station at the end of the shift at 3 a.m., but that is extremely late for volunteers; another is that volunteers could participate in semi-regularly scheduled ride-alongs with officers, so that volunteers could become more skilled.