Citizen Reporting of DUI- Extra Eyes to Identify Impaired Driving
Extra Eyes Operations
Operation Extra Eyes, developed by Officer William Morrison and Lieutenant David Falcinelli of the Montgomery County Police Department, debuted in 2002 and continues today. The recruitment process of community and student volunteers is selective, with a goal of achieving the highest-quality candidates, such as adult alumni of the Montgomery County Citizen’s Academy1 and high school students participating in SADD activities.
Volunteer Organizational Structure
The Montgomery County Police Department has several volunteer program opportunities for citizens, all run by officers from the Community Services Department (CSD). The senior legal enforcement officer runs the Extra Eyes program, but the Police Department volunteer division has a person who is in charge of all volunteers in the department. Usually CSD and Extra Eyes have a coordinator assigned to them. The coordinator heads up a unit that pairs people into teams and assigns locations. Community volunteers for Extra Eyes are adults; student volunteers affiliated with SADD do the paperwork.
A select group of specially trained adult volunteers are enlisted to serve as an extra set of eyes for police officers on patrol. The carefully screened volunteers are selected based on recommendations from friends or relatives of police officers or are citizens who have gone through the Citizen’s Academy, which teaches civilians about police work. The Citizen’s Academy thoroughly checks the backgrounds of all participants. If recruits aspire to become an officer in the Police Department, they are eliminated from the selection pool because they have been found to take unallowable risks, such as following or confronting a suspect or putting themselves in harm’s way. All community volunteers have strict safety guidelines (e.g., they are not allowed to follow or confront a suspect, stop a vehicle, or put themselves in harm’s way).
All community volunteers attend a 6-hour class covering law enforcement topics on Maryland alcohol laws, detection of an impaired driver, pharmacology of alcohol, overview of underage drinking, communication techniques, courtroom testimony, operational report writing and note taking, and police department program guidelines. Generally, training is conducted in two sections: the first half is in a classroom and the second half is in the field, which includes an evening ride-along with a police officer and instructions on using the radio. An instruction manual is provided for the first half of the training.
Community volunteers fill out an Extra Eyes Volunteer Registration Form, a Montgomery County Driver Volunteer Registration Form, and a Montgomery County General Volunteer Registration Form before participating in any activities. A time commitment is not required from the volunteers (e.g., so many hours per month).
The volunteers have liability coverage under the Volunteer Services Department of Montgomery County’s insurance policy. If they are injured while on duty, they can apply for compensation. So far, no volunteers have had any safety issues and no one has filed a claim.
Currently, there are fewer than 10 community volunteers available to participate in Extra Eyes activities. Personnel reported that 12 to 15 would be ideal at one activity, but a larger number (close to 50) would be most useful in order to have, as one officer stated, “a larger pool to draw from.” With a larger number, the officers could deploy more teams of two community volunteers each on saturation patrol nights.
Student volunteers are selected from local high schools. In September, officers attend SADD luncheons at high schools where they explain details of the Extra Eyes program and then provide a signup sheet for interested students. The interested student volunteers (preferably juniors or seniors for maturity’s sake) are then invited to a training day, which is supplemented by a refresher briefing on the night of the operation. There are no requirements such as grade-point average (as with some extra-curricular school programs); the only criterion for the student to participate is that they be good, well-rounded citizens.
All volunteers must sign a permission form before they are allowed to ride along with police officers. This form contains language approved by county attorneys with a waiver of injuries clause. Volunteers younger than 18 must have their parents also sign the waiver. Students driving themselves home at night after the activity are given passes to drive after the State’s curfew hour. Volunteers doing filing or computer work have a general, not criminal, background check. Further, their driving records are checked, and they must provide referrals from their teachers.
Student volunteers receive 4 hours of training, which occurs once a year. They also receive refresher training on the evening they volunteer. Volunteers are trained on how to fill out tickets, warrants, citations, and other paperwork. Most student volunteers attend the Citizen’s Academy for instructions on what to look for and how to act. Although student volunteers primarily assist in filling out paperwork for officers, either in the police vehicle or at the station, they also assist with other activities such as compliance checks.
Currently, the department has between 15 and 25 teenage volunteers whose tasks are primarily to complete paperwork.
The Alcohol Initiatives Unit of the Montgomery County Police Department predetermines the nights and locations of Extra Eyes operations. The community volunteers are always deployed in teams of two or more, along with sufficient sworn personnel and a designated police supervisor directly overseeing the operation.
Typically, at least two community volunteer teams go out in unmarked civilian cars. Teams also are referred to as “cars.” Community volunteers are told where to work (city area) and are given suggested lookout spots (e.g., garage/parking lots) in alcohol-enriched environments. Usually community volunteers are stationary; however, as long as they have their radios and can communicate with officers, they are permitted to patrol a segment of the roadway.
Once the community volunteer team locates a parking spot to simultaneously observe entrances to several bars or a liquor store (often close to parking garages), they sit in the car and look for people exiting the bars that stumble or appear otherwise impaired. The community volunteers also look for individuals with basic driving skills problems (e.g., coming down ramps and hitting side barriers, not stopping at stop signs, erratic driving). When an impaired individual is identified, the community volunteers radio directly to officers on patrol (an officer at the station) and describe the suspect and what the suspect is doing (e.g., fumbling with keys, driving without the lights on). They also provide information on the violation observed, the location, the direction headed, a description of vehicle (color, make, model, unusual descriptors, and license plate number), and the number of people in the vehicle. The Extra Eyes supervisor then informs a patrol officer, who proceeds to locate the individual and vehicle and follow the suspect until probable cause to stop the vehicle can be established, or pursuit is discontinued.
During the operation, the community volunteers keep an information log on the evening’s activities with their observations. Community volunteers always complete the necessary paperwork to be used, if needed, for a successful prosecution. At the end of the operation, all equipment is returned to the police supervisor at the station.
Extra Eyes patrols usually last from 4 to 6 hours, running from 10 p.m. to 3 a.m. A student volunteer or intern (college age or an older involved citizen) may accompany an officer while on patrol to provide an extra pair of eyes and assist with the officer’s paperwork once an arrest occurs.
Extra Eyes Enforcement Efforts
Extra Eyes enforcement operations were led by the officers who founded the program in both 2002 and 2003. In 2004, another officer from the Montgomery County Police Department led the program. During that time, management was irregular and data were not always collected. However, in 2005, one of the original founding officers again assumed program management. Because of the changes in leadership, it was occasionally difficult to find information such as dates of operations; however, Tables 1 through 4 list the dates and locations of Extra Eyes operations (as best as can be discerned) from 2002 through 2005, the number of Extra Eyes teams used on each date, and the DUI arrests made on those occasions when the program was in operation.