Funding Problems Scale Back Sheriff DWI Enforcement
By BJ Austin, KERA News
Dallas, TX – Dallas County Sheriff's Deputies are part of the County's 45-agency DWI Task Force, but their presence won't be as big as last year. KERA's BJ Austin says federal funding for holiday enforcement is frozen.
An investigation into possible cheating on overtime in a federal-grant program to catch "speeders" has cut off companion funding for holiday DWI enforcement.
Chief Deputy Joseph Costa says that means the County's DWI mobile command post, a specially outfitted 18 wheeler, will not be on location this Thanksgiving holiday - no money for overtime to staff it.
Costa: It's very disappointing. But we can only work within our means, what we have. And so a decision was made not to have the 18 wheeler out. But that doesn't mean we won't be out there enforcing DWI laws.
Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price would like to see the Sheriff figure out how to use the DWI command post.
Price: They need to manage and redeploy their forces so they can utilize that intoxilyzing unit. It has a great benefit to law enforcement, especially during the holiday season.
Chief Deputy Costa says the mobile unit allows more efficient processing of suspected drunk drivers, and gets deputies back out on the road sooner.
Costa: We can bring them into that mobile intoxilyzer. We can do all the necessary tests we need to do, plus the reports. So, when we bring them into the jail and book them in, they've already gotten all the intoxilyzer done, the reports we have to do. They're already ahead, so they're not spending two-three hours in the jail.
Chief Costa says the Sheriff has applied for a special TxDOT "holiday enforcement" grant that would help fund DWI patrols and use of the mobile intoxilyzer during the rest of the holidays. The department hopes to get approval next week.