By Annette Hinkle
Sag Harbor Village Police Officer David S. Driscoll who has been named the 2012 Officer of the Year. Officer Driscoll was honored last Friday, along with other officers of the year from North and South Fork departments, at a Kiwanis Club dinner in Aquebogue.
How do you get selected as Officer of the Year?
The police chief picks the officer. I was happily surprised I was selected. I’m happy to receive this award. Everyone in the Sag Harbor Police Department is dedicated to their job and the department as a whole, and I’m honored to be chosen.
One of your primary focuses in the department has been DWI enforcement and this past summer, you worked with the county on their DWI Task force. How did the program work and why is it so important?
The DWI Task Force was very effective. It brings individual officers together from East End departments to work for a common goal — to enforce DWI laws and make the roads safer for everyone. We set up check points on a select amount of days – it wasn’t just summer, we carried it into the fall as well — and I believe it was a success. Both the North and South Fork participated.
The Hamptons in general have a lot of visitors, including tourists, combined with a very social atmosphere. A lot of people don’t adhere to New York State law and still think they can push the limit, which is why we’re out there. We’ve seen a big increase in driving while impaired, including increased prescription drug use.
And that’s complicated in summer by the increased volume of cars and drivers unfamiliar with the roads.
With the traffic volume you have more incidences and in summer, our roads are very congested. The problem is always there and this type of enforcement needs constant attention. Our overall goal is voluntary compliance and we hope our visible patrols will be a deterrent for future crime.
So is it working?
I feel the word is out there, though there is a lot of recidivist crime — people who have prior arrests and still continue in that behavior. They don’t learn the first time, or the second or the third. But my chief is supportive of all the community efforts that we are doing.
What else do you think can be done to make Sag Harbor’s roads safer?
I believe in educating today’s youth on the consequences of DWI and aggressive driving. Enforcement and education are key for the next generation. Now we’re seeing a problem with texting and driving. We have fancier electronics and social media and everyone’s looking down to get the latest text or tweet out while driving.
We have done a lot more enforcement of that in the past few years.
You’re also a member of the village’s bike patrol in the summer. That must be a great beat.
It’s a good day at work and it has its benefits. I got certified at the Suffolk County Police Academy to learn how to operate the bikes safely. It’s a good tool to get in and out of traffic safely. We get there pretty quickly. There’s not much to the bikes, they’re narrow and sleek and we can go down staircases and alleyways.
So I’m guessing that means you’ve probably caught more than a few people in the act of doing something they shouldn’t be doing in their cars.
The element of surprise is there as well. When you arrive on a scene, people don’t see you coming up. We definitely get surprised looks. We find people not obeying vehicle traffic laws, people on cell phones, drinking in vehicles, drug use. With bumper to bumper traffic, the bike’s better than a car — and on a bike, it’s a whole different view.