WHITE CITY, Ore. – Law enforcement officials from multiple Jackson County agencies were out in full force Memorial Day weekend looking for drunk and impaired drivers. After midnight on Sunday, an impaired driver crashed into a Sheriff’s Deputy’s patrol car.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Detective Eric Henderson said he signs-up for holiday saturation patrol during times like Memorial Day weekend because he’s seen the consequences.
“As most people know we’ve had several people killed, including one of our dispatchers, from drunk drivers,” Detective Henderson said.
Extra patrols work the road on nights when they expect more people on the road. Detective Henderson said keeping dangerous drivers off the road can be as simple as pulling people over for traffic violations like speeding, erratic driving, and forgetting to use a turn signal. He explained once an officer makes contact with somebody, he or she doesn’t have much time. But will always has enough information from the observation and interaction to make a decision about whether or not to make an arrest.
“If someone, say, doesn’t want to do field sobriety tests, an officer can have already made their mind up that they’re going to arrest if that person isn’t going to take those tests,” Detective Henderson said.
In the early hours of Sunday morning, Oregon State Police were called to the scene of a possible DUII accident involving a Sheriff’s Deputy’s patrol car. OSP investigators say the 52-year-old driver who side-swiped a patrol car was hospitalized and later arrested on DUII Controlled Substance charges. This was one of two serious DUII incidents the Jackson County Sheriff’s Department responded to Sunday morning. Just after 2:30 A.M. Sunday morning a driver crashed next to a ditch on Old Stage Road near Galls Creek Road near Gold Hill. The passengers were taken to the hospital with minor injuries after the driver ran from the scene. The investigation is ongoing.
“This is my day off, but I’ll come in as well as other officers that do on their day off or on their regular shift, because we believe in what we’re doing, and that if we can stop somebody from driving impaired, we could potentially save a person’s life,” Detective Henderson said.
The saturation patrols are funded though federal grants, and will be in place through Monday.