Sergeant Don Egdorf
DWI Task Force
Houston, Texas Police Department
MADD National Board Member and Vice Chair
MADD Law Enforcement Committee Chair
As 2020 ends and we start thinking about 2021, I think it is important to look back on the challenges that we all dealt with in 2020. This year, as hard as it has been, has shown that our nation needs its law enforcement officers, especially our DWI cops.
In a year that we saw bars, restaurants, stadiums, arenas and every type of event you can think of cancelled, somehow, we managed to keep the status quo on one thing; impaired driving. When the COVID crisis started and we began seeing businesses shutting down, I think we all had the same initial thoughts that we would see a drastic decrease in DWI arrests and DWI fatal crashes. Unfortunately, neither of those have happened. Here in Houston, where we have been the unfortunate leader in DWI deaths for many years, we have actually seen an increase in our fatal crashes from both 2018 and 2019.
When we ask ourselves why, there isn’t really a good answer, but we know without a doubt that we are needed more than ever to help make the roadways safer. I want to issue a challenge to all of the officers out there to make an effort to take more impaired drivers off the roadway in 2021. Every impaired driver that you arrest will be a life that is saved. For the Chiefs of Police, elected Sheriffs, Constables, Colonels, or whatever title your department head carries, please make the effort to let your troops know that DWI enforcement is important, and necessary. I have always said you don’t have to be a chief to be a leader, but it sends such a strong message to everyone in the department when your Chief IS the leader when it comes to DWI enforcement.
2021 is already set to bring historic changes to our country. The U.S. House of Representatives just passed a bill to decriminalize marijuana at the Federal level. For states that do not have legal and/or medical marijuana, like mine, we can expect changes to everything that we do. Bills like this one, as well as others that are coming, will all highlight the need to have every street cop trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) as well as highlight the need for many more Drug Recognition Experts (DRE). We are already behind the curve on this issue and we will all be playing catch up.
2020 has forced us to go virtual and we have lost many of the in-person events that we attend like Lifesavers and the DAID conferences and MADD was forced to cancel our 40th anniversary celebration and conference. The good news is that as time goes on, these events will come back. We are working on some exciting projects at MADD that will help the law enforcement community including national and regional summits to discuss impaired driving. Ron Replogle, MADD’s National Law Enforcement Initiatives
Manager, has been working hard on these events and I wanted to make sure that he is recognized for his work. I may be the chair of the MADD Law Enforcement Committee, but Ron is really the guy doing the work behind the scene to make everything happen.
Make sure that you wear your vest and wear your seatbelt! Remember that the life you save might be your own.
Please feel free to reach out to me anytime if I can help.