Citizen Reporting of DUI- Extra Eyes to Identify Impaired Driving
Background and Operations
Extra Eyes History
In the aftermath of the 2002 sniper shootings at random roadside areas in Montgomery County, Maryland, and throughout the Washington, DC, metropolitan area, impaired driving enforcement suffered. When the sniper shootings occurred, law enforcement was already overstressed from increased security demands and the long overtime hours following the September 11, 2001, national tragedy. Montgomery County had to find a way to motivate police officers to conduct anti-DUI activities.
As the 2002 holiday season approached, Montgomery County residents and law enforcement agencies faced additional challenges, including budget constraints, staffing shortages, increased alcohol-related collisions and other tragedies, increased fatal collisions (including a 27% increase in pedestrian deaths), impaired driving arrests on a continuous four-year slide, and lack of motivation for patrol officers to conduct alcohol enforcement. Additionally, because misuse of alcohol is common among both adults and youths during the holiday season, drug- and alcohol-impaired driving are traffic safety issues of concern during the holidays, as are pedestrian safety, occupant protection, and aggressive driving.
To address these challenges, Montgomery County needed new, innovative, and comprehensive solutions that would use resources not normally tapped by law enforcement agencies. Consequently, Lieutenant David Falcinelli and Officer William Morrison of the Montgomery County Police Department created and implemented the multi-agency “Enhanced Impaired Driving Task Force” program as a new strategy to raise awareness, motivate officers, and educate the community. This comprehensive program was aimed at improving the safety of all motorists. It used civilian personnel and multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Montgomery County Police in cooperation with the Maryland State Police, the Maryland National Capital Park Police, Gaithersburg City Police, and the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office.
The Enhanced Impaired Driving Task Force was responsible for training volunteer civilians to help identify DUI offenders and using Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) volunteers to assist officers with paperwork, and to set up targeted enforcement at selected locations in Montgomery County. Types of enforcement strategies used by the task force included regular sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols, the Cops-in-Shops program, the Repeat Offender program, and the Operation Fake-Out program, as well as a new program called “Operation Extra Eyes.” During task force activities, officers certified as drug recognition experts (DREs), commercial vehicle inspectors, and child safety seat specialists were available to provide their services if necessary.
Types of Enforcement Strategies
Sobriety checkpoints were conducted at selected locations based upon the latest alcohol-related crash data from the Maryland State Police. The checkpoints involved personnel from various police agencies through Montgomery County, including the Maryland State Police, Gaithersburg City Police, Rockville City Police, Chevy Chase Village Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office, and the Maryland National Capital Park Police. Passing vehicles were stopped and the drivers were questioned. Drivers were screened for alcohol and drug use, safety belt use, current driving status, and other potential violations. Police interns and SADD volunteers handed out traffic safety literature to motorists on topics such as aggressive driving and the Maryland .08 BAC law.
At a kickoff event on November 22, 2002, in Bethesda, Maryland, Montgomery County Police announced the special enforcement initiatives for the 2002 holiday season. Extra Eyes was a component of this larger impaired driving initiative. Presenters included:
This special kickoff meeting also was Operation Extra Eyes’ debut, although the program had been in formative stages for roughly a year.
Extra Eyes Objectives
The Operation Extra Eyes program was designed to assist law enforcement personnel in the detection of alcohol violations, offer an efficient method of fighting alcohol-related problems for departments suffering from a shortage of officers, and encourage trained citizens to work hand-in-hand with law enforcement to build a citizen-officer bond and create a safer community.
The objectives of the Extra Eyes program include:
The stated goal of Operation Extra Eyes is “to work in partnership with the community to make our roads safer and decrease the number of alcohol-related tragedies that affect our families.