Fullerton DUI checkpoint funding denied

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Photo by Eleonor Segura/Daily Titan

Following the Fullerton City Council’s rejection of a $50,000 grant for DUI checkpoints, there were no Fullerton Police Department checkpoints set up this past Labor Day weekend.

According to the Orange County Register, members of the city council voted unanimously to accept a $146,222 state grant for saturation patrols, but turned down the $50,000 grant earmarked for checkpoints.

Saturation patrols are patrols where officers comb a specific area for drunk drivers. Such patrols result in more arrests, though they lack the educational aspect of a checkpoint.

DUI incidents are typically more common on holidays, said Fullerton police Sgt. Jeff Stuart.

Stuart pointed out that while drinking is always a problem, long weekends and holidays give people an extra chance to do it, which results in more incidents.

Though this may be the case, Fullerton police did not participate in any DUI checkpoints over Labor Day weekend, while many other Orange County police departments did.

“It’s not necessarily something we would do every Labor Day,” Stuart said.

According to Lt. Scott Rudisil, the amount of checkpoints the Fullerton police set up in any given year is based on how much funding they receive from state grants.

“We like checkpoints,” Rudisil said. “They’re expensive to run, but they’re educational to the public.”

to further their ability to set up such checkpoints, and noted that a grant such as the one the city council was discussing would be helpful for such programs.

Fullerton police were unable to provide the exact number of DUI related arrests made over the Labor Day weekend at the time of this report.

They were also unable to compare the number of arrests made in Fullerton to the number of arrests made in Orange County at large, where checkpoints were more common over Labor Day.

According to the Orange County Register, Fullerton police made a total of 2,189 DUI arrests between 2009 and 2010, but only 1,142 since 2011, a drop which police are attributing to a lack of funding.

Cal State Fullerton University Police Capt. John Brockie said in an email that University Police was not involved in any checkpoints for Labor Day weekend.

The Fullerton City Council reconvenes on Sept. 18 to consider accepting the $50,000 grant that they previously refused, following pressure from residents upset with DUI incidents in previous years.

One of the triggers for such a reaction was the crash that killed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitcher Nick Adenhart in April 2009.

Adenhart and two of his friends were killed in a collision with a drunk driver after an Angels game.

The driver had both a suspended license and a previous drunk driving charge.

Relatives and friends of Adenhart were among those rallying against the decision to deny the grant for checkpoints. Adenhart’s death has consistently been referred to over the past few years as a message of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Both the $146,222 patrol grant and the $50,000 checkpoint grant come from the state Office of Traffic Safety, although the money for the grants themselves is drawn from different sources.

Following the emotional displays from those connected to the Adenhart incident, as well as many others who know drunk driving victims, the Office of Traffic Safety has reportedly considered an all-or-nothing deal.

The Register reported that police were told that if the council refuses the checkpoint grant another time, the $146,222 patrol grant will be withdrawn.

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