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County’s New DWI Task Force To Start This Weekend

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By Claire Walla

Responding to the number of arrests for Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) here on the East End, Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota announced Wednesday, May 23 the creation of a new East End DWI Task Force.

Flanked by Sheriff Vincent DeMarco, SCDA Bureau Chief Steve Kuehhas and police chiefs from the 10 East End police departments, as well as officials from Suffolk County Police, Suffolk Park Police and New York State Police, Spota said the task force would begin operations this Friday, May 25 — just in time for the Memorial Day weekend.

The task force will involve 41 police officers from departments across the East End, who will work under the auspices of the district attorney’s office to patrol certain areas where high rates of drunk driving have been identified. According to a representative in the district attorney’s office, all East End department chiefs reportedly got together to identify these “hot spots” throughout the county where DWI arrests have been common.

For obvious reasons, she added, the specifics of these locations and the times when the task force will be deployed are being withheld from the public.

Spota said in a press release that the philosophy behind the formation of the task force is to employ a team approach to cracking down on people who drive while intoxicated. Officers will cross over jurisdictional boundaries to collectively patrol certain targeted areas.

“Local police departments in the five towns and villages don’t have the resources to focus solely on drunk and drugged drivers on holiday weekends,” Spota is quoted as saying. “This team strategy will augment local law enforcement and make the expansion of the enforcement action on the East End more mobile and responsive.”

According to figures released by the D.A.’s office, the total number of DWI arrests processed in East End town and justice courts from 2009 to 2011 averaged 1,100 to 1,200 per year.