Back to Table of Contents
Part Two: Hot Sheet Program, Planning and Implementation
Planning is the key to any viable enforcement program. Administrators must decide: (1) the best deployment of resources; (2) what level of program activity is needed; and, (3) identify problems that could arise. This process must include an evaluation process to assess enforcement. This information is invaluable when rating a program's effectiveness, and when establishing guidelines for future programs.
Planning should include liaison with other agencies that could influence the success of the program. Basic problems like jail overpopulation, community skepticism, judicial case loads, and needs for alternate means of incarceration, could impact this program. Support and approval are needed from key factions within the highway safety community. Help promoting your program can be obtained from state highway safety officials, the medical community (e.g., Cops and Docs), and local Council of Governments. Some others to consider are:
Sheriffs; State Police/Highway Patrols; Departments of Public Safety; Municipal Law Enforcement Agencies; Constables; Township Police; Tribal Police; and Campus Police Agencies.
Clerks of Courts; Court Administrators; Justices of the Peace; Magistrates; District Court Commissioners; Judges; Public Defender Officials; District or States Attorneys; Prosecuting or County Attorneys.
Corrections, Detention, Jail Administrators; Halfway House, Community Release, Work Release, Study Release, Alternative Release Supervisors; and Probation or Parole Services.
Elected officials (Town, City, County and State).
Highway safety advocacy groups (MADD, SADD, etc.); Health Department personnel; media (print, radio, and television).
The National Sheriffs' Association recommends the inclusion of selected government officials and community leaders in the planning stage. Community involvement in issues like selective enforcement programs helps managers focus on the local problem, and keeps citizens informed about issues facing law enforcement agencies. This approach always provides administrators with an opportunity to garner the support needed to correct or resolve the problem.
Once administrators have determined a need, explored resources, satisfied equipment needs, garnered support, and developed a media campaign, implementation can begin. Once the agency has established a liaison with the state's DLD, and the coordinator has determined the best way of transferring suspension and revocation program data (via a modem, diskettes, etc.) the program can begin. It is ideal if DLD is able to query their database and sort out those drivers, suspended or revoked, by county or zip code, and place them on diskettes for entry into your database. This narrows the target drivers to a manageable list and allows the police agency to be more creative in developing their enforcement strategy.
Next, determine how much information (name, address, description of a vehicle, work address, etc.) will be used, and how many names will be placed on the list (worst 10, 15, or 20). The "top ten" concept used by Salt Lake County was very effective because it was challenging, reduced printing and copying tasks (made for manageable distribution), and officers were able to refer to the single sheet quickly. Salt Lake County's hot sheet contained the driver's name, last known home address, DOB, description, current license status with the number of times suspended or revoked for impaired driving. Hot sheets were distributed at the patrol level every three to four weeks. In areas with low populations of drivers suspended for impairment, the list would contain names of drivers suspended or revoked for other traffic-related reasons. Salt Lake County's experience revealed that providing vehicle descriptions proved impossible because of the way DMV records were kept. (See Attachment 1 - Sample Driving on Alcohol Suspension Hot Sheet).
Another benefit of the hot sheet program is its versatility. Patrol areas can be broken down and lists of drivers, suspended or revoked for different reasons, could be distributed to target select offenders within those boundaries. If driving while impaired is an overall problem, targeting drivers suspended for alcohol violations can be an effective way to underscore your overall alcohol enforcement program.
Effectiveness of the Hot Sheet program becomes more evident when it is combined with other traffic enforcement strategies such as sobriety checkpoints, saturation patrols, or random traffic checkpoints (license, registration, insurance checks). Ohio County Sheriff's Office, West Virginia, the another pilot test site, used the Hot Sheet as part of their checkpoint enforcement strategy. They made numerous arrests on warrants, and probation violations, based on the Hot Sheet.
One of the first implementation tactics used by Salt Lake County was to contact other law enforcement agencies in the county (Town, City and State) to determine if they would be receptive to having the list provided to them. Most of the neighboring agencies participated in the program with the County Sheriffs. This is where the fax machine proved its value as it shortened the time needed for distribution, and the list went directly to the individuals who needed to receive them.
Another aid is to set up a suspended or revoked driver's Hot Line. The Hot Line concept has been developed in conjunction with other criminal justice agencies to encourage citizens to call and report violators, no questions asked.
It is recommended that the prosecuting attorney and presiding judge be involved in the planning stage, especially when designing the implementation process and enforcement strategy.
These people can be very helpful in identifying any legal requirements and evidentiary information needed to establish and maintain an effective program.
If the presiding judge is not available, inform them of the plan and detection procedures to be used. This is essential in obtaining judicial support and acceptance. A judge may provide insight on what activities would be required to successfully adjudicate such cases. Prosecutors, judges, and other involved members of the judiciary could be invited to observe the actual program in operation. This would provide insight into its effectiveness and purpose.
It is vital for law enforcement agencies to realize the importance of successful media relations and public information programs. Law enforcement projects are more effective if quality public information campaigns are conducted in conjunction with the programs.
Public awareness of the magnitude of the problem-and the enforcement efforts to combat it-can establish a "perception of risk" and gather support for your program within the community. The message that a substantial risk exists, and that violators may be apprehended and arrested, elevates the deterrence effect.
One of the most interesting media stories printed in Salt Lake County was the story about one individual who found out his name was on the Hot Sheet and called the Sheriff's Office demanding to be taken off the list. He said, "he did not want the officers to know he was driving on suspension." He was advised that, once he was taken off suspension, his name would be removed. In the meantime, he was still being targeted. This is the ultimate deterrent scenario.
Salt Lake County had press releases at the beginning of the pilot test program, and periodically throughout the duration of their enforcement effort. Several television stations did special reports on their program. The media effort was an essential part of their overall program, and Salt Lake attributes some of their success to them. Using the media effectively could improve the chance for a highly successful program.
Employees of State Department of Motor Vehicles
The State Department of Motor Vehicles is generally the source for all suspension or revocation orders. It is often the custodian of driver history files and the source of documents needed to identify and prosecute suspended or revoked operators. For this reason it is important the DMV or appropriate agency be consulted and involved in all stages of the operation. Since the State Department of Motor Vehicles, Driver License Division, will be the lead agency in identifying offenders, a good working relationship is crucial to the program's success.