KEMAH, Texas (AP) — The Kemah Police Department is on a mission to stop drunk drivers before they commit felonies.
The Galveston County Daily News reports
several local bar owners and the police department have teamed up in
recent months to combat drunk driving by communicating about patrons'
state of inebriation and working to get them into taxis and Ubers
instead of driving on the road, Police Chief Chris Reed said.
"If one of my officers pulls over a guy for a
DWI, they're dealing with that for two or three hours," Reed said. "And
that makes a difference in one person's life. But if they can
discourage 20 or 30 people from drinking and driving, that's a big
The effort, which first started about a year
ago and developed into its current form about six months ago, has been
enormously successful for both police and bar owners, said Harry White,
who owns Voodoo Hut on Bradford Avenue in Kemah.
"We'll notice someone is intoxicated and walk
them up to the bar to pay and then offer them a cab or an Uber," White
said. "For the most part, they'll take that."
White wanted Voodoo Hut to be a place where
people felt safe, and so when he first opened the bar more than a year
ago, he emphasized security, he said.
The initiative began when White's security
team, which includes eight bouncers on the weekends, started
communicating with police officers in the field via walkie-talkies, Reed
Since that initial decision, the measure has evolved into a citywide effort to stop people from driving drunk, Reed said.
Officers now work with bar owners to train
staff on how to handle unruly patrons and what to look for to spot fake
IDs, White said.
Bar staff also write incident reports and keep a book of fake IDs they share with officers, White said.
"It's like a neighborhood watch, but in an entertainment area," Reed said.
The different bars also communicate with one
another so that someone doesn't get kicked out of one place only to move
onto another, White said.
"Prevention is the big thing," Reed said. "We
had only two public intoxication arrests all weekend. Those could have
been DWIs. We try to nip it off as early as we can."
The initiative might not stop people entirely from drinking and driving, but the goal is to minimize the problems, Reed said.
About 20 people attended the first in what
are planned to be quarterly meetings between bar owners and Reed about
improving communication methods, White said.
"It's great having everyone on the same page," Reed said.
Bar owners also hope by spotting and convincing people to turn over fake IDs, they can reduce underage drinking, White said.
"We're hoping to weed out a lot of that," White said.
Officers tell inebriated people they'll
patrol parking lots to keep cars left overnight safe if they'll take
Ubers home, Reed said.
The initiative has been so successful, officials now hope to secure grants to buy more equipment and training, Reed said.
If there's any downfall to the initiative, it's proving statistically the benefits it gives, Reed said.
"It's difficult to quantify prevention," Reed
said. "But common sense says it works. And we're getting positive
feedback from residents and bar owners."
Information from: The Galveston County Daily News, http://www.galvnews.com
This is an AP Member Exchange shared by The Galveston County Daily News