Sulphur Springs Police Department Tuesday was armed with two additional tools to aid them in detection of drunk driving; Mothers Against Drunk Driving East Texas obtained the portable breathalyzers utilizing a portion of the funds raised during the inaugural fundraising walk.
The presentation was held at Alliance Bank, which along with Farmers Electric Coop was a presenting sponsor for the 2013 Walk Like MADD. Local MADD board officials and Walk Like MADD committee; the family of Nathan Spataro, in whose memory last year’s walk was held, representatives from 2013 sponsors; police and city officials; walk participants; and other community members were in attendence.
“I speak for the Spataro family and sponsors of the 2013 walk in expressing appreciation for all the work you do. We say thank you to you and the community for sponsoring last year’s walk,” said MADD East Texas Program Specialist and Development Officer Kelli Martinez Tuesday when addressing the police officers and community members.
The donation will mean three portable breathalyzer tests will be available for SSPD certified intoxilyzer operators to utilize while on patrol.
“This is another valuable tool during driving while intoxicated investigation. We’ll use them at the roadside to investigate DWIs. They are another tool we can use to develop a case to show probable cause for intoxication cases,” said SSPD Lt. Pat Leber who, along with Sgt. Amanda Weatherford and Patrol Officer Brian Shurtleff, accepted the test kits on behalf of the department.
The portable breathalyzers, like horizontal gaze nystagmus and roadside field sobriety tests, are one more source SSPD will be able to use at the roadside to test whether or not someone is intoxicated. People blow into plastic tubes and the machine gives a numeric rating for blood-alcohol content.
Additional funding from the 2013 Walk Like MADD, which raised about $10,000, will go toward educational efforts in the community and services offered through MADD.
This year’s educational focus is underage drinking. This fall, thanks to State Farm, MADD will be visiting with teens and demonstrating using “drunk goggles” and bowling activities to show how drinking alcohol can alter perception and response times.
Planning has already begun for the 2014 Walk Like MADD, which is a glow walk that will begin at 8 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 27 at the pond in Buford Park. Registration has already begun for the event online at www.walklikemadd.org. Search for event by state and county. On-site registration Sept. 27 will begin at 7 p.m. Adult and youth teams, individuals and their four-legged friends can participate.
The event will feature a kids’ activity area including a bounce house, as well as a pet zone. Sulphur Springs Dodge will be the presenting sponsor for the 2014 walk, additional new sponsors include M&F Western and Farm Country.
The goal for the 2014 Walk Like MADD is to at least match the $10,000 raised last year. As of noon Wednesday, five teams and eight participants had already signed up, raising more than $4,000 or 40 percent of the annual goal.
Martinez said this year MADD East Texas hopes to raise funds to purchase alcohol wands for school districts to use as well as pins for police to use when conducting horizontal gaze nystagmus tests.
She noted the pins are another tool officers can use when developing cases involving intoxication offenses. The tool beeps counting times and measures, making sure the requisite six seconds are observed for test validity. The light on the device can be seen on patrol video footage and the beeps from the device are generally detectable on officers’ mikes.
MADD’s mission is to stop drunk driving, support victims of drunk driving and prevent underage drinking. All services offered by MADD are free to victims and communities. More information about MADD can be found at www.madd.org.
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