Cole County cracks down on DWI's

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JEFFERSON CITY - The Cole County Sheriff's Office is increasing DWI enforcement thanks to a traffic grant from the state.

Cole County Sheriff John Wheeler said the new "wolf pack" initiative brings in two or three off-duty deputies to work alongside the Missouri State Highway Patrol in areas that have a high volume of crashes. The overtime hours for deputies working in the wolf pack is paid for by the grant. 

Wheeler said the wolf pack patrols throughout the county and "is a lot better than doing the DWI checkpoint." 

"We are not looking to arrest people," Wheeler said. "We would rather not arrest people, because that complicates things. We would much rather people comply with the law and just don't drink and drive." 

So far in 2017, there have been 2 fatalities and 80 injuries in Cole County from car accidents. In 2016, there were 8 fatalities and 444 injuries. 

According to a press release from the Cole County Sheriff's Office, the total number of Missouri traffic deaths declined to 766 in 2014, one of the lowest rates since the 1950s. Fatalities increased during 2015 and 2016.

Wheeler said the numbers for 2017 are on track to be about the same as the fatalities and injuries in 2016.

From 2013 to 2015, Cole County was ranked in the top 10 counties in Missouri for having the most accidents involving alcohol and drugs.  

Wheeler said DWI's and crashes increase in the summer, which he associates with warmer weather.

Jefferson City resident Brent Fuller said, "I am glad the state decided to fund Cole County on this, because the funding has to come from somewhere."

"We want people safe." Wheeler said. "We want them to have a good summer. We want them to have a good time. We don't want to have to deal with a loved one being killed. We don't want to have to deal with being injured and have to go to the hospital. We want people to have a good time, but we want them to comply with the law." 

The wolf pack initiative will go through the end of July.

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