Area police stations receive thousands of dollars each year to combat drunk driving. But some smaller police stations aren't yielding many arrests. And Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says the county may have to reduce funding. Yet, area police chiefs say despite the numbers, Stop-DWI funds are very important and they are being put to good use.
"The numbers don't always tell the story," says Robert Drake, Sherrill police chief.
"We may not have made a lot of DWI arrests but it is a major deterrent," says Donald Wolanin, Whitestown police chief.
But Anthony Picente says if the arrests aren't being made, there's no money coming in from those particular areas.
"When arrests are down, fines are down because the program is entirely fine funding. Anyone who is arrested for DWI pays a fine. So it's one of those catch-22s that you're in. If you don't have the fine money, you can't run the program as you did the previous years," says Anthony Picente, Oneida County Executive.
Nut some of the smaller police stations say there's more than meets the eye. They say the funded patrols serve as a deterrent to those who might consider drinking and driving.
"When people see a DWI saturation point, they're obviously gonna not drink and drive," says Wolanin.
"It keeps the people off the roads and in smaller areas, if there's less on patrol, i would say those numbers will go back up again," says Richard Zabeck, Oriskany police chief.
"And I don't think its a good idea because we have a lot of pedestrian traffic here, and that would eliminate our ability to get a second car out on the street making sure that people aren't drinking and driving," says Drake.
Still - in the last three years, agencies in Oriskany, Sherrill, Whitestown and Yorkville have made just 15 DWI arrests from those funded patrols. But Chief Wolanin says this doesn't always mean they're not making the arrests.
"We don't have a designated car, so if our car stops somebody for DWI or there's an accident, and we arrest them, it may not necessarily be on the program. Because our people would have to off-duty coming in on their off-duty time and it's a little difficult with the smaller departments that don't have the numbers to put out there," says Wolanin.
The Oneida County Sheriff's Office has made over 500 DWI arrests in the last 3 years and Utica police has made over 300 arrests in the last 3 years. Both departments have more man power than the smaller area police stations. Regardless, officials say deterrence is important, but it doesn't result in the funding of the Stop-DWI program - the arrests do.
Oneida County Executive Anthony Picente says the county still has re-evaluating to do regarding the funding. He says we'll have more answers by January 1st.