Pierce County’s Target Zero law enforcement team dedicated to reducing the number of people killed by impaired drivers is headed for Tacoma the weekend of Sept. 29.
The team has arrested more than 2,500 impaired drivers since July 2010. The officers’ efforts saved at least 21 lives and reduced drug- and alcohol- related fatalities by an unprecedented 30 percent. However, downtown streets and several in north Tacoma, including 6th Avenue, continue to pose risks to pedestrians and drivers, according to organizers. Bar hopping has grown on the avenue along with the number of licensed premises.
“Impaired drivers and pedestrians on the same street at the same time are nothing more than a terrible tragedy waiting to happen,” said Fircrest Police Chief John Cheesman. He is chair of the Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force, which coordinates the efforts of local law enforcement agencies with those of the Washington State Patrol and the community.
More than 30 troopers, officers and deputies are expected to join forces on Sept. 29 beginning at 9 p.m. To maximize their time on targeted streets, the Washington State Patrol will park its Mobile Impaired Driving Unit (MIDU) nearby. Officers will bring their arrestees to the 36-foot motor home to be tested for alcohol and placed in a holding cell before turning around and getting back on the road within minutes.
An additional team of three Home Safe Bar officers, including the Liquor Control Board, as well as family members who have lost a loved one in a drunk driving crash, will visit bars to raise awareness about over-service among servers and bartenders. They also will provide customers with phone numbers for taxis. Law enforcement will follow up Monday or Tuesday by contacting the owners of bars where drivers, arrested Saturday night, said they had been drinking last.
The Tacoma Pierce County DUI and Traffic Safety Task Force is comprised of 24 member agencies and is funded by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission and local law enforcement agencies. The task force, which just celebrated its 30th birthday, is administered by Pierce County Community Connections.