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St. Joseph County DUI Task Force Awarded Best In State

December 3rd, 2007 by YONIKA WILLIS Tribune Staff Writer

MISHAWAKA -- Mishawaka Police Lt. Tim Williams tells officers in St. Joseph County's DUI Taskforce that their work is about saving lives. The task force is comprised of officers from Mishawaka, South Bend, St. Joseph County, Notre Dame and Walkerton police departments.

Williams, commander of the task force, encourages the officers to meet more than just the minimum requirements for the state. That approach has decreased the number of alcohol-related fatalities by about 91 percent in the past three years.

And it's that approach that has earned the task force the Best in State Award from the Indiana Governor's Council on Impaired and Dangerous Driving out of 32 counties with task forces throughout Indiana.

St. Joseph County DUI Task Force: From Left: SBPD Sgt Gene Eyster, SBPD Sgt Steve Goen. Governor Mitch Daniels, MPD Lt. Tim Williams, SBPD Cpl Edward Koczan, WPD Chief Gary Laird, SBPD Ptlm. Jason Biggs, MPD Chief Witkowski, ICJI Coordinator Lance Grubbs, SJCPD Sgt Regis Thimons

"One of the things that I think made them successful is that there is a Fatal Alcohol Crash Team and if someone drinks and drives they will be prosecuted," said Lance Grubbs, law enforcement liaison for the northeast region for the Governor's Council.

 

The task force was judged on the number of drunken and impaired driving arrests, the number of hours worked, the visibility of officers, the cooperation with media and the number of sobriety checkpoints they had, Grubbs said.

In St. Joseph County alcohol-related fatalities are down, Grubbs said.

In the past three years alcohol-related fatalities fell from 22 to two, Williams said. Unfortunately, he added, two alcohol-related deaths occurred this past week.

This is the second year in a row the task force has been awarded; last year it was voted second in the state, Grubbs said. "We're encouraging drivers to make responsible decisions," Williams said. "We want the tragedies not to occur in our community."

  
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