FARMINGTON — This summer, Farmington police officers made fewer than half the number of drunken driving arrests that they did last summer, according to statistics from the 100 Days and Nights of Summer campaign.
For the past several years, law enforcement agencies throughout San Juan County have participated in the campaign, which takes place from June to September. The campaign involves increased police presence and checkpoints to focus on traffic violations -- specifically violations involving drunken driving.
Public service announcements are sent to media outlets to alert the public about when checkpoints will be in effect.
The campaign is funded by a state grant, which pays officers for overtime to conduct the extra patrols and checkpoints.
During this year's campaign, the Farmington Police Department made five DWI arrests and issued 402 speeding tickets, 23 red light citations and 24 child passenger restraint violations. Those were in addition to the police department's normal traffic patrol arrests and citations.
Last year's campaign resulted in 12 DWI arrests.
Pamela Drake is executive director of the San Juan County Partnership. The group lists one of its goals as raising awareness of drunken driving prevention efforts in the community.
Drake said the recent statistics show that the annual summer campaign is important and effective.
"Five DWI arrests doesn't seem like a lot, but those are only the FPD's numbers," she said. "And even getting one extra drunk driver off the road is a big deal."
Drake said she wants to make sure the public is aware that law enforcement is spending the time to make driving safer.
"We also want to raise people's perception of the risks of drinking and driving," she said. "If they know the checkpoints are going on and that there are extra officers out looking for drunk drivers, they will hopefully make better decisions and will be more careful."
While the 100 Days and Nights of Summer campaign netted fewer DWI arrests this year, the number of overall day-time DWI arrests that Farmington officers make has been increasing, said Farmington police Sgt. Dave Monfils, who is in charge of the department's traffic division.
"I'm not sure why this is happening," Monfils said.
Despite the increase, Monfils believes the public has noticed the success of the 100 Days and Nights of Summer campaign. And he said it's making a difference.
"During the campaign, at any given time, we can have two to four extra officers on the street focusing on these issues, and people are starting to notice the officers doing more traffic stops. Word is definitely getting out," he said.
Monfils said that although the campaign has ended, there will still be normal DWI checkpoints conducted throughout the year.
"We're still out there and are still looking," he said.