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Kitsap County Sheriff's Department teams up with Target Zero
Eliminating all alcohol-related roadway fatalities might seem like an impossible goal, but that doesn't stop officers from various agencies across Kitsap County from trying to make a reality out of the idea with DUI emphasis patrols.
The recent "Drive Hammered, Get Nailed" campaign to discourage intoxicated driving took place between Aug. 17 and Sept. 3. The campaign resulted in 66 DUI, by one for the same program in 2011.
Participating agencies included the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, and the Bainbridge Island, Bremerton, Port Orchard and Poulsbo police departments.
Kitsap County Sheriff's Deputy Scott Wilson said that August and September are particularly deadly months on the road for motorists in the state and that sober drivers should be aware of fellow travelers whose alcohol consumption levels are not always safe for the public roadways.
“People are traveling more and with the favorable weather, it's daylight longer, and people are out longer, so if they drink, there is a greater likelihood they will drive,” Wilson said. "During this time of year people are attending various events."
This year's Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign included a special emphasis night at the Kitsap County Fair from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. Aug. 24. That was sponsored by Kitsap County Target Zero Task Force and coordinated with various Kitsap County law enforcement agencies.
The task force is funded through the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office with an $85,000 grant from the Washington Traffic Safety Commission.
According to data gathered from this emphasis patrol, of the 322 motorists officers pulled over on Aug. 24, approximately 12 resulted in DUI arrests.
Marsha Masters, Kitsap County's Target Zero Task Force manager, oversees Kitsap County's Drive Hammered, Get Nailed, "Click It or Ticket" and "Slow Down or Pay Up" campaigns. She said that the special emphasis, conducted at the fair, where officers knew there was a high volume of motorists driving on the roadways to and from the event, was an effective way to disseminate the message to the population on a mass scale that there are severe consequences for not obeying the state laws regulating drinking and driving.
"Officers and deputies waited around the fair and looked for people who were speeding or for people with their headlights out,” Masters said. “Officers will often saturate an area on a certain day when it is a party night, maybe during a Christmas party and this helps to educate the public. During the winter months, we have the Night of 1,000 Stars Campaign."
Masters said that the goal of the Kitsap County Target Zero program is to ultimately eliminate all roadway fatalities by the year 2030, though she acknowledges that this might be a difficult goal.
"I just want people to play by the rules," she said. "One life lost to drunk driving is too many."
Deputy Wilson added that while the mass effect of the Drive Hammered, Get Nailed campaign on the public does reduce the level of drunk driving on the county's roadways, this doesn't mean the Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is going to shift more of their manpower resources from traffic deputies to patrol deputies anytime soon.
"DUI emphasis is just one tool of many that we use to make the public safe," Wilson said. "What we are doing is moving more deputies to 911 patrol. This duty can be done by a traffic or a patrol deputy because fatalities on the road are very complex."