Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden on Tuesday swore in about 50 officers from jurisdictions throughout Sussex County to participate in Checkpoint Strikeforce, a five-month, statewide effort intended to crack down on drunk driving and other crimes.
Drunk drivers beware: sobriety checkpoint season has arrived in Delaware.
On Tuesday, Delaware Attorney General Beau Biden swore in about 50 officers from jurisdictions throughout Sussex County to participate in Checkpoint Strikeforce, a five-month, statewide effort intended to crack down on drunk driving and other crimes.
“This program goes a long way to making folks throughout the state a lot safer,” Biden said during the ceremony at the Georgetown Fire Hall on South Bedford Street. “The program not only targets drunk drivers at the checkpoints but helps officers take people off the street who are wanted for other crimes.”
This year, the weekly checkpoints will be scheduled from June 29 to Dec. 31.
During the past five months of 2011, officers working under Checkpoint Strikeforce conducted 67 checkpoints throughout the state, leading to 1,800 arrests and citations, according to the Attorney General’s Office. They included 478 DUI arrests, 389 fugitive arrests, 342 seatbelt violations and 257 drug arrests.
Biden credited the program, which is now in its 11th year, with helping to reduce the percentage of fatal crashes that involve alcohol.
In 2011, 35 percent of all fatal crashes in Delaware involved alcohol, a drop from 46 percent in 2010, he said.
Biden also pointed to the program as an example of how the state and federal government can work together to address law enforcement issues at a local level.
“There is a lot of discussion in the state and the country about Washington D.C. and the role of the federal government,” he told the officers at Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony. “The government gets derided and beaten up and people question whether it has a role in law enforcement. I believe that it does.”
Ten officers from the Georgetown Police Department were sworn-in to the program Tuesday.
“This program has a direct impact on Georgetown by cracking down on DUIs,” said Sgt. Tom Tyndall of the Georgetown Police Department. “But it’s also a great way to catch someone who is trying to smuggle contraband, and fugitives passing through, on our highways.”
Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony allows police officers participating in the program to make arrests outside of their normal jurisdictions. More than 50 officers from police agencies in New Castle and Kent counties also were sworn-in to the program earlier this month.
Lt. Steven Rust of the Milford Police Department said having officers from various agencies working together has benefits that go beyond the checkpoint program.
“It helps us get to know each other and work better with one another,” he said. “And, in light of budget cuts at various levels, I think people want to see police officers working together as a group to enforce the laws on our roads.”