Bremerton police’s DUI numbers continue to soar

There was a time when Bremerton’s police officers would often hand over a motorist suspected of drunken driving to a Washington state trooper. 

No more.

Since organizing a traffic division about five years ago and beginning an increased traffic and DUI emphasis inside city limits, the numbers have soared. In 2005, there were 107 DUI cases in Bremerton Municipal Court; in 2010 there were 276, according to numbers I obtained from the city this past week.

There have already been 249 cases in 2011, through Oct. 3.

An emphasis patrol conducted by the department’s graveyard shift — known as “Third Watch” — netted 15 arrests in three nights between Sept. 29 and Oct. 1. I asked Billy Renfro, one of the two third watch sergeants, a series of questions about how it went and what it accomplished.

JF: How well did the emphasis go?

BR: Both (fellow third watch sergeant Rich Cronk) and I thought it went outstandingly … we were handling area calls in addition to the DUIs.  I was really impressed with the entire shift as a whole.  The officers that were not directly involved with arresting DUIs were covering calls and assisting with transports to the jail.

JF: How did officers strategize to seek out additional DUIs?

BR: I don’t know that we had a specific strategy, other than ‘Let’s go out and make traffic stops’ …The DUIs will follow.  It was a city wide emphasis, although I think a majority of the stops occurred  on the east side of town.

JF: How many officers participated?

BR: Each night we ran 5 to 7 officers and we had a reserve officer on one of the nights, which really helped with the transports.

JF: How does this kind of proactive patrolling benefit the city’s residents and public safety as a whole?

BR: The benefits to the safety of the commuting public is something that I don’t think we can ever really measure.  I am absolutely convinced that the officers of Third Watch have saved lives and prevented damage to property with every DUI driver that is arrested.  And this is something that the Watch eagerly pursues.  It’s not something that Rich and I have to come in and force them to do.

In closing, I’m extremely proud of the efforts put forth by the entire shift, but specifically impressed with (Master Police Officer Matt) Thuring, Traffic Officer (Don) Rogers, Officer (“Duke”) Roessel, Officer (Steve) Polonsky, and Officer (Steven) Forbragd.

17 thoughts on “Bremerton police’s DUI numbers continue to soar

  1. Cool.
    Catching them in Bremerton keeps them off major roadways and saves innocent people from drunk drivers.
    Are the DUI’s cars confiscated more than a month? It is their ‘weapon’ of choice…they shouldn’t get it back any sooner.

    Congratulations and THANKS (Master Police Officer Matt) Thuring, Traffic Officer (Don) Rogers, Officer (“Duke”) Roessel, Officer (Steve) Polonsky, and Officer (Steven) Forbragd.- for the lives you are saving by bagging the drink & drives.

  2. Ditto – keep up the great work, dealing with a snotty drunk is not a fun time, it shows dedication that they are aggressively enforcing the law and preventing serious and fatal accidents.

  3. Nice! THANK YOU to each one of you that arrested an impaired driver! It might have been my life that was saved. I am glad the impaired drivers are off the road, but I am sad that there are so many still out there. Come on people, it is so easy…..if you want to drink, don’t drive….if you are driving, don’t drink.

  4. If we added teeth to the law against drunk driving and not only confiscate the car they are driving but sell it and add the funds to the cost of jailing the drunk/s, we’ll have safer roadways..

    No exceptions, including pleas of other people depending on the car…if enough chips fall from the enablers of the drunk drivers – they will ‘police’ their own family member or friend and we won’t have drunks driving and killing innocent people.

  5. If they really want to stop DUI deaths, they should just ban the usage of the automobile between the hours of 6:00 AM and 5:59 AM.

    The .08 level of impairment is too low. What is important is getting dangerous drunks off the road. To do that, raise the limit to .15 and punish with SEVERE consequences. Between .10 and .15, education, and a fine would suffice.

    The only reason to have such a low threshold as .08 is to bring in the cash. Bremerton is famous for pulling people over for heinous crimes such as, cracked taillight, one brake light, or just looking too ratty, or too nice.

    When did the main job of policing become tax collection?

  6. Mike – Why do you object to getting drunks off the roadways? So what if police officers collect fines? It can’t happen unless the driver is proven impaired.
    If we nail the drunks hard the first time, its unlikely there would be a second or third time…or so it seems to me.

  7. Your premise is wrong. I want to get drunks off the roadway, and the only way to do so is to jail them for extended periods of time, and take away the ability to drive after release. Do you feel comfortable with doing that to someone that is less a danger on the road than a 65 year old SOBER driver? If the law is to apply very strict penalties, they need to target those that cause the most damage, and deaths. Those are repeat offenders, that when pulled over are not just tipsy, but hammered. When accidents happen, the drivers are usually well over .08, more likely in the .20+ range. The arbitrary limit of .08 was put there by reaction to the MAD group, and to bring in money. There is a cutoff where the cost exceeds the benefit, and .08 is just much too low.

  8. Drivers are pulled over for legal reasons then discovered they’re driving impaired and things go from there.
    You say that blowing a .08 is too low – that such drivers are perfectly safe to be driving on our roadways?

    Drivers SHOULD be pulled over at whatever level makes them a danger to others on the roadway. I don’t know what the legal ‘hammered’ numbers are but are you saying that nothing below that number is harmful to others?

  9. There have been studies that show that a 65 year old sober man, is just as impaired as a 25 year old with a BAC of .15. If you want to go to zero tolerance, and just call any amount a DWI or DUI, then clearly you are on the extreme. They need to find a level based upon scientific and provable evidence and enforce it. On the other hand, you should not enforce the law against someone blowing a .08 the same as a guy blowing a .20+. It is like the difference between a very slight danger, to incredibly dangerous, and treating them the same.

  10. Harmful to business, look at the small numbers of people in bowling leagues. This is directly tied to fear of DUI. The vast majority of those participating in many social activities is the college age. No longer is there a thriving business at taverns, with women and older men in pool leagues. People now stay home, no longer mixing with each other out of fear. There is a cost to business, which is financial, and a cost to society, which is a social cost.

    It used to be that people were pulled over for exhibiting symptoms of impairment. Grinding of gears, weaving, speeding, going to slow, or driving without lights on or on bright. They changed this to a method of pulling over anyone they felt like, then filtering them all through a screening process. This is wrong in a free country. I would much rather see people feel free, than attempt to stop all DUI’s with a legally sanctioned roadblock. Clearly, the social cost, and the cost to a free society is too high, especially given that the level of .08 is not a point in which a majority of drivers are a danger to themselves or others. Change it back to where there must be “reasonable cause” to pull drivers over, then “impairment” is easy to prove. Not just an arbitrary number that pleases a political group, MAD.

  11. Thank you Bremerton PD for your emphasis patrols for DUI and for speeding and not stopping for crosswalks in school zones. I witnessed the officers working the Naval Avenue school zone last week in the morning as the kids are arriving at the school. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

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