North Idaho officers to work across jurisdictions to combat impaired driving this holiday season

During this holiday season, Kootenai County law enforcement agencies are partnering on a new strategy to protect the traveling public and to get impaired drivers off the road.

“We’re going to take the approach this season that we haven’t taken in quite some time—or ever for that matter—to have a multiagency task force to conduct emphasis patrols focusing entirely on impaired drivers,” said Idaho State Police Captain John Kempf.

With funding from the Idaho Transportation Department to cover the costs of extra patrols, local law enforcement agencies are coordinating multijurisdictional emphasis patrols on the weekends through New Year’s Eve. Each participating agency assigns additional officers to canvas the entire county, regardless of jurisdictional boundaries.

“We’ve noticed a pattern in the last several months,” Kempf said. “We’ve seen increases in drunk or drugged driving involved in not only crashes but also fatalities, and we’re working with other agencies to put on extra patrols to focus on this problem.”

Many law enforcement agencies throughout the state plan these patrols during the holidays when there are more drivers on the roads, but in Kootenai County, the patrols will be more organized than previous efforts, and hopefully, more effective.

“We’re going to have all of the officers from the different agencies that are participating use the same radio frequency,” Kempf said. “It allows them to remain focused on DUI enforcement and allow other officers to handle non-DUI calls.”

By using one radio channel for communication, officers from multiple agencies will be able to work as one team to catch impaired drivers, Kempf said.

“With this team-focused approach, we’re not going to worry about jurisdictional boundaries,” Kempf said.

Kempf said there will be extra officers from the Coeur d’Alene Police Department, the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and the Idaho State Police patrolling for impaired drivers every weekend until the end of the year.

“If you suspect somebody of drinking and driving, dial 9-1-1. Officers will be dispatched to locate those drivers,” Kempf said. “We want everyone on the roads to be safe this holiday season, and anyone can help with that.”