The Brazil Police Department (BPD) and Clay County Sheriff's Department recently participated in the statewide Operation Pullover (OPO), Drunk Driving, Over the Limit, Under Arrest, March crackdown/blitz.
According to the BPD, four officers dedicated 37 hours of overtime toward patrolling city streets looking for impaired or dangerous drivers. The extra patrolling resulted in four arrests for Operating Vehicles While Intoxicated (OVWI), including two with previous OVWI convictions.
Other arrests made included four arrests for possession of marijuana with a previous conviction, one arrest for habitual traffic violator after a lifetime suspension, two arrests for operating without ever receiving a license and two driving while suspended.
The department also issued approximately 10 citations for other various moving violations and 65 warnings were issued as well.
Sgt. Todd Stemm, who headed the operation, said the main focus is the impaired or dangerous driver, but vehicles were also stopped for equipment violations and speeding, and all of the arrests made during the blitz were a result of traffic stops.
Overall, the BPD stopped more than 50 vehicles during the extra patrols, which began March 2 and ended March 18. Sgt. Stemm noted St. Patrick's Day fell on a Saturday this year, which added to the increase of traffic in the city.
Brazil Police Chief Clint McQueen said enforcement like the OPO blitz is performed periodically and usually to coincide with heavier traffic times of the year.
"Increased traffic enforcement is completed once every quarter, or four times a year during times that coincide with heavier traffic," McQueen said. "It's expected there will be intoxicated people out driving (during St. Patrick's Day), our duties are to look for that and observe for that and then take action to make sure that the rest of the drivers are safe."
McQueen said he was satisfied with the job his department did.
"We took a proactive approach on making traffic stops that were going to yield the criminal arrests during this OPO blitz," McQueen said. "The officers did a fine job in making sure our citizens are safe by taking people off the road who were violating the law."
Operation Pullover is a federally funded project that allocated funds to the BPD, as well as more than 250 other law enforcement agencies in the state of Indiana to complete the extra patrols.
Meanwhile, the Clay County Sheriff's Department made three alcohol related arrests during its Operation Pullover blitz.
According to the department, officers dedicated 33 hours of overtime toward Indiana's annual mobilization against impaired and dangerous driving.
Sgt. Jason Frazier, who was in charge of the 17-day mobilization for the department, said a total of 53 arrests were made, mostly for various crimes, as well as warrants issued by the courts.
Frazier said the department also issued citations for various violations including speed, passenger restraint violations, disregarding stop signs, driver's license offenses, no insurance violations and vehicle registration offenses.
Sheriff Mike Heaton said the goal of the campaign was preventing dangerous driving.
"The goal of this campaign is prevention, not arrest," Heaton said. "Our enforcement efforts may have increased over the last 17 days, but drivers should remember -- our commitment to keeping roadways safe from impaired and dangerous drivers is a year round effort."
Frazier spoke in detail about the focus of this and future blitzes.
"The focus of this blitz was aggressive driving and DUI's," Frazier said. "Each blitz has a different focus, like Click it or Ticket, which will be our next blitz. It will be a crackdown on drivers and passengers not wearing their seatbelts."
According to Frazier, the next enforcement period will take place May 18-June 3.
He said the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute (ICJI) schedules the blitzes and gives the departments an outline for the year about when it wants the enforcement periods to take place and what the focus should be.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), there were 609 crash fatalities on St. Patrick's Day in 2010.
Of those crashes, 6 percent involved an impaired driver and/or motorcyclist with a Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of .08 or higher.
According to information provided by the Clay County Sheriff's Department, the Operation Pull Over blitz was supported by federal funding allocated to the Clay County Sheriff's Department from the Traffic Safety division of the ICJI.
More than 250 Indiana law enforcement agencies participated in the annual statewide enforcement effort, which generally occurs around the St. Patrick's Day holiday.