KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Kansas City police are sounding an alarm about drunk driving crashes.
They say the number of impaired driving fatalities and injuries has been on the rise since the Missouri State Legislature cut funding for DUI checkpoints.
Social media posts and news reports about where sobriety checkpoints would be on any given weekend haven’t been shared in a while because most Missouri police departments simply don’t have the money to do them anymore.
“It was absolutely devastating to have a drunk driver take away a career that I loved,” former police officer Chris Mann said.
Mann was just four years into his career when a drunk driver hit him during a traffic stop and altered his life forever.
“When I was standing there in between my patrol car and the car I had stopped, the driver that I was talking to said something,” Mann remembers. “I turned, and the last thing I saw were headlights.”
The next thing Mann knew, he woke up on the ground, 30 feet from where he was hit, severely injured.
“I still consider myself one of the lucky ones because I am still here,” Mann said.
Not everyone is so lucky.
“We have never seen these types of numbers,” KCPD Sgt. Corey Carlisle said. “This is the highest number of in-custody fatal crashes involving impairment that our department has seen.”
KCPD statistics show that in 2017, 35% of fatal crashes in Kansas City were the result of impaired driving, and they’ve steadily increased every year. But 2020 is on track to set a record, now pacing at around 70% of fatal crashes so far.
Carlisle believes that’s a direct result of the Missouri Legislature cutting off funding in 2017 for DUI checkpoints.
KCPD has a rolling police station once used for DUI checkpoints that Carlisle said would yield up to 50 arrests in one night. Officers now drive around looking for impaired drivers on saturation patrol, which may result in a dozen arrests per night.
For police, checkpoints are like catching fish with a net instead of a pole.
“We have the holiday season coming up, and guess what happens during the holiday season? Fatalities go up. We need to get out there and be able to do checkpoints now, today.”
“Legislative leaders need to give police officers every tool available to reduce drunk driving fatalities and injuries,” he said.
FOX4 reached out to several legislators in the Kansas City area for comment. So far, we have not heard back.