Reporter Mark David Smith is participating in the Keller Police Department’s Citizen Police Academy, which runs from Jan. 27 - April 14. The CPA is not open to the general public, but students must apply and be approved. Not everything covered in the classroom can be published here.
This week’s Citizen Police Academy was full of helpful reminders.
Cpl. Johnathan Hicks led the discussion of KPD’s enforcement of driving while intoxicated, or DWI. While we’ve all heard “Don’t drink and drive,” the statistics in the accompanying fact box show just how dangerous impaired drivers are and how important DWI enforcement is.
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Hicks emphasized that the legal limit, a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.08, isn’t a be-all, end-all in determining if someone is intoxicated. Some folks have high tolerance and they may feel fine after several drinks, but it’s still against the law if their BAC is over 0.08. Other people with low tolerances may be under the BAC limit, but still intoxicated and shouldn’t be on the road.
Hicks described the policing process, beginning when the officer sees the vehicle in motion. Intoxicated drivers tend to make traffic violations, stop-and-start and drift in and out. After pulling the vehicle over, officers look for clues to possible intoxication, request backup and perform Standardized Field Sobriety Tests.
In the first SFST, Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus, officers track the suspect’s eyes for signs of intoxication, including equal tracking and smooth pursuit. This test works well for officers, Hicks said, because of alcohol’s involuntary effect on your eye movements.
“You can’t prepare for this test,” he said.
Officers also have suspects do the Walk and Turn test and the One Leg Stand, which primarily tests the suspects’ balance.
Financial fraud and identity theft
The DWI presentation served as a good reminder for many about the dangers of drinking and driving. The second half of the night cast a light on financial and identity crimes, which cause lasting problems for the victims.
Sgt. John McGrew described the many ways criminals can steal your financial, medical and children’s identity. They are known to hijack your accounts, Dumpster dive for your information, hacking your information through technology and eavesdropping, among other methods.
The key is minimizing the threat and protecting yourself from fraud, McGrew said, and he gave many tips, including the following:
Carry as few credit cards as possible
Guard insurance cards like money
Don’t carry your Social Security Card, and try to not print your Social Security number on anything
Guard banking and credit card numbers and passwords
Don’t give out financial information unless you know the organization or person requesting it
Notify your bank or credit card company of suspicious phone inquiries
Review your financial statements carefully
Instead of signing the back of your credit card, write “See Photo ID” so a thief can’t use it
Put outgoing mail in a secure Postal Service box, never in your mailbox
Shred your mail
On the docket next week: Traffic law, accident investigations and felony traffic stops.
Mark David Smith, 817-390-7808
Some DWI Statistics
Drunk or impaired drivers kill or injure a person every minute
Alcohol-related crashes are nine times more likely to result in death
About 10 percent of weekend drivers have a Blood Alcohol Content of 0.10
The average DWI violator drives while intoxicated 80 times a year