Nov 9, 2011 8:48 PM by Andy Koen
Sobriety checkpoints may soon be a thing of the past in Colorado Springs. As part of his budget for next year, Mayor Steve Bach recommended the police department no longer use the checkpoints because they are inefficient at catching drunk drivers.
The mayor says he came to the decision after discussions with the current police chief Pete Carey and his predecessor Richard Myers.
"We tie up a lot of police officers on check points and he felt that he could re-deploy those officers in a much more effective way with high visibility and saturation patrols," Bach said.
However, a spokesperson for the Colorado Department of Transportation, which gives money to the police department for those checkpoints, thinks it's a bad decision.
"We're just disappointed that the police department is opting not to choose to do checkpoints," said spokesperson Stacey Stegman. She says a combination of DUI checkpoints and saturation patrols is the most effective way to deter drunk driving.
Police department data show that between May 31 and September 6, 2010, C.S.P.D. officers stopped 5,252 drivers at checkpoints. Of those, 129 were given roadside sobriety tests and only 53 were arrested, or 1 percent. This summer 3,816 were stopped, 95 were tested and 43 arrested.
"Pragmatically, we need to respect the opinion of our Colorado Springs Police Department leadership," Bach said. "They know what they're doing."
The department received roughly $86,500 from C-D.O.T. and the federal Heat is On campaign but was required to make a matching contribution of around $28,800.
Stegman says that matching requirement has been dropped for next year and that C.S.P.D. stands to lose about $23,000 for dropping the checkpoints. The department will still receive funding from C-D.O.T. for saturation patrols.
However, she also says the decision could cause the department to lose a $250,000 DUI testing van that C-D.O.T. paid for in 2008.
"If they're not doing these at checkpoints, that's a question we're going to have to answer on," Stegman said. "Should that van go somewhere else to another agency that is going to use it."
An email sent to News 5, Colorado State Patrol Captain Charles Cargin said his troopers may hold one or two DUI checkpoints of their own this year on state highways in Colorado Springs.
The El Paso County Sheriff's Office stopped conducting DUI checkpoints in 2010.