Saturday, October 18, 2003

Butler DUI force called success



By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

WEST CHESTER TWP. - Butler County law enforcement officials Friday declared the first countywide DUI Task Force a success and announced plans for another year of crackdowns that begin Halloween night.

To help combat a statewide and countywide rise in DUI crashes, the Ohio Department of Public Safety awarded a $127,473 grant last year to 12 Butler police agencies that joined forces on increased DUI awareness. Butler was one of just five "target" Ohio counties to receive the grant.

From November 2002 through September, Butler's task force arrested 250 to 300 intoxicated drivers during 1,980 hours of overtime for checkpoints and "saturation" patrols, also called "wolf packs."

"We have arrested a lot of people, but that's not what this is about," said Lt. Bob Holzworth of the Oxford Police Department, an organizer of last year's task force. "Our mission is about saving lives."

This year, Butler's task force of 14 police agencies plan to hold at least four checkpoints and continue increased DUI patrols. Education efforts shift to liquor permit holders at bars and other establishments.

And this year for the first time, Hamilton County police agencies are banding together to form their own DUI task force. Sharonville is organizing a task force, but other details weren't available Friday.

The announcements came Friday at a DUI task force luncheon in West Chester.

Butler County had the seventh-highest number of fatal DUI crashes in Ohio in 2001 - 11 - state records show.

The county improved a bit in 2002 with 10 fatal DUI crashes, tying for eighth in the state with two other counties: Mahoning and Tuscarawas, state records show.

The numbers so far this year weren't available Friday.

E-mail: jedwards@enquirer.com.




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