FALMOUTH, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Several law enforcement agencies in Cumberland County have been pooling their resources to combat impaired driving as part of a new pilot project.
In April, chiefs from local police departments got together with the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office and the Maine State Police to form a seventeen member team to target impaired drivers through the use of sobriety checkpoints and saturation patrols.
"We are all in the same boat," explained Robert Annese, a police liaison with the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety. "We are shorthanded and the calls for service are increasing incredibly."
"This team is dedicated solely to the apprehension of OUI's," he added. "They don't answer other calls. So when we go into a town, those police officers in the town are free to answer their calls as they normally would, and the team concentrates on the detection and apprehension of OUI's."
The collaborative effort, funded by a $100,000 grant from the Maine Bureau of Highway Safety, started in April and has made an impact already. Annese says members of the RIDE team, which stands for Regional Impaired Driver Enforcement, have made contact with more than 2000 drivers, making 34 OUI arrests, with another 10 OUI arrests at checkpoints.
The RIDE team will continue their work throughout the county this summer. Annese says he hopes to find more funding to expand the program and create similar enforcement partnerships in other areas of the state.
"We have all witnessed the horrors of vehicle crashes and the loss of life as the result of impaired drivers," stated Falmouth Police Chief Ed Tolan. "We as police officers hope people will make informed decisions about their sobriety before getting behind the wheel of a car."