Prince Albert Police Sgt. Kelly McLean said on Monday that the department gets a fair number of what officers refer to as Reporting Impaired Driver (RID) calls from ordinary citizens.
“Generally speaking, we do get pretty good co-operation from the public,” McLean said.
“Not every time are we able to locate these people, and not every time is the driver impaired,” he added. “We could be dealing with fatigue, we could be dealing with driver inexperience, road conditions. We’ve had all of those answers when we do finally locate individuals that the public believes are impaired. But it’s still important and it’s still an emergency …
“When we do get a RID call, it’s important that they come in on 911. This is not a non-emergency situation. We consider them to be emergency situations, so it’s very applicable that 911 be used.”
Public help was indispensable this week in helping the police arrest an impaired driver in the early hours of Monday morning.
Police first received a complaint at 12:35 a.m. of an impaired driver near 28th Street and Central Avenue. The complainant had observed a vehicle swerving all over the road and running multiple red lights.
Only a few minutes later, officers located the vehicle travelling east on 28th Street at Central and activated their emergency equipment. In the two blocks it took the suspects to pull over, police observed erratic driving actions similar to those described by the caller.
“We removed this individual from the streets with very high readings,” McLean said.
“I can’t get into the specifics of what they were, but they were enough that he had to be jailed. He couldn’t be released immediately until he was sober and then released.”
The suspect, a 22-year-old Prince Albert man, was arrested at the scene without incident and charged with impaired driving and exceeding .08.
We consider them to be emergency situations, so it’s very applicable that 911 be used. - Sgt. Kelly McLean
Released later the same day on an appearance notice, the accused is scheduled to make his first appearance in provincial court on Tuesday, April 23.
McLean hastened to point out that personal safety is paramount when placing a 911 call.
Police do not advocate getting on a cellphone and starting a pursuit with suspects, or placing a call if it poses an unnecessary risk.
“Thankfully, the public for the most part are clear on those rules,” he said.
“In this case, there was a passenger in the gentleman’s vehicle, so they were able to observe driving behaviour and they were able to let us know. We were in the area, so it was a quick response on our behalf, and he was right in the exact area where the caller said he was going to be.”
Impaired driving remains a top concern of Prince Albert police.
“We’re always out there looking for impaired drivers,” McLean said.
“It’s one of the few things that we know is a preventable crime that kills citizens in this country and in this province and in our jurisdiction, and we want zero stats. We’d like to come through 2013 and be able to tell you early in 2014 that we had zero impaired driver-caused deaths in our region and in our province. I’d love to be able to stand in front of you next year and tell you that.
“We’d like to bring every impaired driver off the road. That is a preventable death. That’s a decision that people make to get behind the wheel of a car after they’ve been drinking, and if we can do that -- if we can eliminate that statistic through preventative policing and through asking the community for help -- we’ll do whatever we have to do to try to eliminate that statistic.”