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Headed out to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day? Police will be watching, helping you stay safe

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MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- On this St. Patrick's Day, law enforcement officials are working hard to make sure you are able to celebrate safely. The Milwaukee Police Department and Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office are among the agencies ramping up patrols as folks celebrate the Irish.

Law enforcement officials were watching on foot, on horseback, on motorcycles, on bikes and in squad cars as partiers gathered on Water Street in Milwaukee Tuesday, March 17th. They have this to say to those celebrating on this St. Patrick's Day: Stay safe, and don't drive drunk.

"It's going to be a busy night. Hopefully it will be a peaceful nightWe`re going to intervene where necessary, keep traffic moving where necessary, pay attention to alcohol consumption, make sure people aren`t a danger to themselves or others. A minute's foolishness, when you're staggering home, can have tragic consequences," Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said.

The Milwaukee Police Department held a roll call near Water Street and Knapp Street in Milwaukee Tuesday -- near bars and restaurants.

"You`ll be in the Third Ward, you`ll be here on Water Street, you`ll be on Brady, East North Avenue and you`re going to be dealing with lots of interesting people," Chief Flynn said.

Milwaukee has seen its share of tragedies resulting from St. Patrick's Day celebrations.

In 2012, a fight was caught on video after bars were forced to close after crowds swelled over capacity on Water Street. 28-year-old Thomas Hecht went missing after a bar crawl that took place a few days before St. Patrick's Day. His body was found two weeks later in the Milwaukee River.

"While you`re out there, be safe. Be professional. You`re representatives of the department as people from all over Wisconsin are here tonight. I know I can count on you to make a good impression," Chief Flynn told his officers during the roll call.

In Wauwatosa, law enforcement officials were also gearing up for a long day and night.

"We're trying to make sure we get our impaired drivers off the roadways to make it safe for you. I look for traffic violations in regards to possible impaired drivers. I'm here solely to look for impaired drivers. You're putting a lot of lives at risk when you get behind the wheel if you're impaired," Kurt Svatek with the Wauwatosa Police Department said.

Miller Lite Free Rides will be available on all Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) routes from 6:00 p.m. until the end of regular service on St. Patrick’s Day, Tuesday, March 17th. No fare or pass is required. Miller Lite Free Rides are provided in partnership with the Milwaukee County Transit System.

Also available -- the "SafeRide" program. At participating establishments, simply by alerting a bartender, server or other wait staff, a customer is guaranteed a free, safe ride home.

The 1999 Wisconsin Act 109 established a surcharge on every DWI conviction. That money may only be used for alternative transportation from Class B licensees to a customer's home.

The Tavern League administers the "SafeRide" program, and these DWI surcharges help pay for it.

Sober drivers can get a reimbursement if they use their own vehicles to get intoxicated people home.

One of the establishments that takes part in the "SafeRide" program is "Hosed on Brady," which pays for the first $25 of patrons' cab rides.

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