Columbus Police ending OVI Task Force


COLUMBUS (WCMH)–The Columbus Division of Police is apparently doing away with sobriety checkpoints.

In an email to Mothers Against Drunk Drivers this week, Sgt. Michael Smith wrote, “It is with great disappointment that I report to you that Columbus Division of Police no longer has a formal OVI task force. By order of Chief Jacobs, grant funding has been declined to fund future sobriety checkpoint operations.”

ovi1Doug Scoles, executive director of Ohio Mothers Against Drunk Drivers, says the group strongly opposes the change.

“Checkpoints don’t necessarily apprehend  a lot of drunk drivers at that time and location but they are effective, extremely effective in deterring impaired driving behavior,” Scoles said.

Chief Kim Jacobs was out of town and unavailable Thursday. A spokesperson for the Division of Police issued the following statement:

The Columbus Division of Police has applied for the renewal of the IDEP & STEP traffic enforcement grants to continue focus on impaired driving and other dangerous moving violations.

IDEP (Impaired driving enforcement program) utilizes federal grant money allowing the Division to fund additional uniformed saturation patrols with the focus on impaired driving.

STEP (Selective traffic enforcement program) utilizes federal grant money allowing the Division to fund addition uniformed officers to target reckless traffic violations including impaired driving.

Each year, since 2010, the Division received approximately $225,000 in federal funding to conduct checkpoints. The checkpoints while effective are labor intensive, take officers from patrolling the streets and often result in overtime for officers.

The Columbus Division is committed to OVI enforcement and will continue to enforce the law involving impaired driving through saturation patrols in areas with high concentrations of impaired drivers and through every day policing.

Scoles says MADD believes in a multi pronged approach to combatting drunk driving with publicized checkpoints as one of the key pieces.

“There’s a buzz in the air and it really alters behavior,” Scoles said. “People will find designated drivers like they’re supposed to and they won’t drink and drive and that’s the whole purpose behind highly publicized checkpoints.”

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