Making Traffic Enforcement a Priority
Thanks to a grant from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, MADD conducted a two-and-a-half-day summit bringing together law enforcement leadership from across the country in Alexandria, Virginia. The topic? How to make traffic enforcement a priority again.
Participants shared their struggles and their strengths in making drunk and drugged driving a focus of their agencies. Some of the barriers identified:
- Conflicting Leadership Priorities: Law enforcement leadership at the Summit currently believe in strong traffic enforcement but were quick to note that many of their peers have other priorities. Department leadership fear losing their jobs over homicides but not over traffic enforcement, although traffic fatalities far exceed homicides. Leaders at the Summit spent substantial time talking about the lack of leadership or leadership priorities in the area of traffic enforcement.
- Insufficient Funding: Many of the barriers to better traffic enforcement discussed could be addressed with more funding, particularly in areas of more manpower, overtime, assistance for toxicology labs to decrease wait time, sobriety checkpoints, and training.
- Lack of Training: Several issues presented could be traced back to a lack of experience among officers in the area of impaired driving enforcement or lack of training, one of the biggest barriers discussed. This issue also ties back to funding, as it is a challenge to fulfill the dual needs of officer training and maintaining enforcement on the streets.
- Lack of Motivation: A major barrier that was addressed from several angles was lack of motivation among officers to make impaired driving arrests. This is due to a lack of community support and lack of effective prosecution for impaired driving.
Participants also broke into workgroups to brainstorm ways to tackle these issues. One idea was to focus more effort towards educating city councils and city managers on how traffic enforcement plays a vital role in stopping other crimes. Attendees also suggested a continued focus on soliciting and enlisting community support for law enforcement so that officers feel more supported in their efforts to reduce drunk and drugged driving.
A full copy of the report and recommendations can be accessed below.