Boone County Sheriff's Department on the Lookout for Impaired Drivers
BOONE COUNTY - If you've driven through a sobriety checkpoint in Boone County, you're part of a number that's only getting larger. The Boone County Sheriff's Department started stepping up their DWI enforcement in 2008, and it's kept increasing every year since.
"We really have made it a top priority and been aggressive with DWI enforcement," Sergeant Brian Leer said.
Deputies say Sheriff Dwayne Carey comes from a traffic background, and there is a larger emphasis plaved on traffic enforcement since he became Sheriff.
"We're very lucky to have a sheriff that comes from a traffic enforcement background that really supports us in the area of traffic enforcement," Deputy Mark Winchester told KOMU.
But the Boone County Sheriff's Department isn't just lucky to have Sheriff Carey. Deputy Mark Winchester is an asset to their traffic unit.
"He's by far our top performer as far as being able to go out and identify and remove those impaired drivers from the road," Leer said.
Winchester's interest in law enforcement started in college when he took a criminal justice course. He started his law enforcement career in Cape Girardeau County, where he was told the best officers went out to look for traffic violations, specifically impaired drivers, whenever they weren't responding to calls for service.
"And then once I got out there and started finding the intoxicated or impaired drivers it was something that really interested me," Winchester said.
And looking at the numbers, you can see Deputy Winchester's impact on the number of DWI arrests by the Boone County Sheriff's Department.
Numbers rose when the traffic unit was formed in 2006, then dropped the next year when Winchester temporarily left the Sheriff's Department. 2009 was Winchester's first full year back with the Sheriff's Department, and with more than 400 DWI arrests, it's clear he is an asset to the Sheriff's Department.
"I'll be honest, we've got some people that have moved into some positions that they're very proactive DWI enforcement people," Leer said.
Leer told me Winchester is among these people. Winchester works overnight shifts to best use his skills at finding impaired drivers.
A self-proclaimed night owl, he says the hours don't bother him and he really enjoys the work.
"If there's every been a special assignment, like a sobriety checkpoint or a DWI saturation available to work, I try to work as many of those as I can," Winchester said.
With more proactive officers, like Winchester, and more aggressive DWI enforcement, the Boone County Sheriff's Department hopes it will all add up to fewer intoxicated drivers on the road.