KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Police throughout the metro will be on high alert this weekend, targeting drunk drivers. The effort, called “Flood the Streets,” will honor victims of alcohol-related crashes.
Officers on both sides of the state line will do saturation patrols and arrest anyone they catch impaired behind the wheel. It’s part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Leanne Lewis lost her father in 2008, when a drunk driver crossed the center lane and hit him head on.
“There’s always going to be an empty place in my heart for my dad,” Lewis said.
She’s part of Mothers Against Drunk Driving now. Lewis is helping Operation Impact, a multi-state traffic safety task force to honor victims while they try to prevent tragedies.
In 2016, more than 10,000 people died in alcohol-related car wrecks, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“Those numbers don’t have to happen,” Lewis said. “This is a 100 percent preventable crime.”
Last year, Missouri lost its state funding for DWI check points. KCMO Police uses saturation patrols, or extra officers on the road patrolling for drunk drivers. Those are still funded by the state.
“For Kansas City, my DUI arrests are down 30 percent when I compare saturation patrols to check points,” said Sgt. Christopher Bentch, Kansas City Missouri Police Department’s DUI section supervisor.
State Rep. Kathie Conway introduced an amendment that would have increased funding by $500,000 and brought back the check points. That proposal was voted down.
“I think that saturation patrols don’t have the same deterrent effect that a check point does,” Lewis said.
Despite frustration and sadness, Lewis said she’ll persevere.
“We’re not going to stop fighting for our law enforcement to have every tool that they need,” Lewis said.
KCMO Police encourage people to use taxis, designated drivers or ride sharing if they’re going to drink.