State Patrol reacts to number of alcohol induced crashes in surrounding area

Conducted “saturation patrol” last Friday

By Cayla Vidmar

According to the Colorado State Patrol (CSP), “In the last five years this area (Montrose, Delta, Ouray, Gunnison, San Miquel, Northern Hinsdale and Western Saguache counties) has had the second most fatal (vehicle) crashes in the state during the month of July and in particular one of the highest dates is July 27.” This prompted a “saturation patrol” of the area last Friday, July 27, with 29 total troopers on the roads looking for intoxicated drivers in those counties. Officers arrested three people for DUI/DUID, and made 264 total contacts.

“Nine drug recognition experts … along with other troopers and officers looked for those drivers that choose to drive impaired by drugs, alcohol or both,” stated the press release for the saturation patrol that took place on Friday.

State patrol statistics show that so far in 2018 there have been 119 drivers arrested for impaired driving in the Montrose and Gunnison areas, about 35 more than last year. “Unfortunately 46 others have crashed, which is five more than last year,” according to the state patrol.

According to Jeff Chmielewski, trooper with the Colorado State Patrol, “There were approximately five more officers per shift than usual on July 27 working for CSP alongside deputies and officers. We do see a correlation between the number of troopers/law enforcement working and increased contacts, citations and arrests, which speaks to the benefit of these saturation patrols.”

Among the three drug and alcohol related arrests troopers made on July 27, officers also “had two warrant arrests, one of which was a felony. …We also identified a stolen vehicle, and recovered user amounts of cocaine and methamphetamine,” says Chmielewski.

The saturation patrol involved the CSP and local law enforcement “saturating” the area with troopers, deputies and officers. “There was no (DUI) checkpoint established at any particular location,” Chmielewski says, but rather “enforcement is out in force in a typical patrol capacity, looking for traffic violations and for impaired and intoxicated drivers.”

The total tally for the saturation patrol in the Gunnison and Montrose areas went as follows: 112 verbal warnings, four written warnings, and 118 citations. Of the citations issued, 16 were for seat-belt violations (three of which were child safety restraint violations).

Chmielewski considers the effort a successful saturation patrol, and writes that this is the first year the CSP has conducted a saturation patrol on July 27. He states that they wish they were able to conduct such patrols more frequently, but notes that limited resources need to be balanced.

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