Kansas City police netted eight DUI arrests Friday night north of the river in its first internally-funded sobriety checkpoint since millions in federal funds were shifted from the checkpoints to saturation patrols.
The checkpoint was held at U.S. 169 and North Harlem Road from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. It yielded the eight DUI arrests as well as one narcotics arrest, one fugitive apprehension and four instances of driving while revoked or suspended.
The Kansas City Police Department, as well as 65 other Missouri law enforcement agencies, is seeing $19 million in federal sobriety checkpoint funding shift to saturation patrols this year.
Christopher Bentch, a DUI section supervisor with KCPD, told The Star he sees both the patrols and checkpoints as important strategies to deterring drunk driving.
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“If you’re in a checkpoint and drunk, you’re definitely going to jail,” he said.
Bentch added that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has reported that checkpoints reduce drunk driving fatalities by 20 percent.
The shift in federal dollars away from checkpoints means “we’re set to lose what we believe is a viable strategy for DUI enforcement,” Bentch said.
Though three more checkpoints funded internally by the department are scheduled through the fall, Bentch said it’s unclear if sufficient funding will allow for their continuation.
“We’d very much like to do checkpoints,” he said, “but it’s very hard to pull them off” with internal resources.