WAUWATOSA -- Law enforcement officials are making themselves visible ahead of the Thanksgiving holiday -- encouraging those who choose to drink to do so responsibly, and not get behind the wheel. Officials were out in full force on "Black Out Night" -- the night before Thanksgiving, considered by some to be the biggest drinking night of the year.
Officers with the Southeastern Wisconsin High-Visibility Enforcement OWI Task Force held a roll call in the street in Wauwatosa on Wednesday night, November 21st. The Wauwatosa Police Department had 20% more cops on the roads on Wednesday night, with the extra enforcement and overtime paid for by state and federal funding.
"(Wednesday is) famous for the biggest drinking night of the year for the bar scene, so we are stepping up patrols," Wauwatosa Patrol Specialist Ryan Cepican said.
Ramped up patrols were planned across southeastern Wisconsin as drivers hit the road for the Thanksgiving holiday.
The OWI Task Force utilizes a "stop-test-arrest" method towards deterring drunk drivers.
The Task Force works to:
- 1. Reduce drunk driving by enforcement.
- 2. Increase public awareness with visibility through squad presence.
- 3. Standing roll call with multiple agencies and media in targeted areas.
- 4. Build better partnerships and communication between agencies.
Cepican estimated he would make about 20 traffic stops during his shift and that a handful could involve alcohol. However, Cepican said the increased patrols cannot stop every bad decision or booze-related collision.
"We want people to make the right decision. Unfortunately, there are people that don't heed our warnings. There will be crashes, and we can't prevent them all," Cepican said.
The Wisconsin DOT says there were 225 fatal crashes last year, involving alcohol. The hope is these ramped up patrols will curtail those numbers.