An effort launched by the Richfield City Police Department three years ago continues to tally up arrests.
The department netted 111 driving under the influence arrests in 2019.
“It was a goal we all agreed on,” said Richfield City Police Chief Trent Lloyd. He said the goal of more aggressive enforcement of driving under the influence was about more than just improving safety on the roads.
“It’s a way for us to fight the drug problem,” Lloyd said. “We’re still fighting a tidal wave with a teaspoon, but we’re fighting hard. Our guys are out there working hard every day.”
The 111 number is down from 117 from the year prior, but it shows the effort is still very necessary, Lloyd said.
One change in this year’s arrests is that DUIs due to alcohol as a percentage of the whole were up slightly. This year 32 of the DUI arrests were made for people driving under the influence of alcohol.
The rest, 86 arrests, were due to drugs. In 2018, 98 of the 117 DUIs were due to drugs.
“Alcohol is up, but it’s still not the biggest problem,” Lloyd said.
Of those DUIs resulting from illegal drug use, 40 were for marijuana, while 34 were for methamphetamine — a first since the department has been making the DUI effort, Lloyd said.
In previous years, meth accounted for far more arrests on city streets than marijuana. In 2018, 69 of the DUI arrests were meth-related, while 24 were marijuana related.
Opiates accounted for nine DUI arrests in 2019, followed by prescription/other at four and one with cocaine.
“I’ve always believed that a DUI is the one type of arrest where you make a difference,” Lloyd said. He said it takes someone who is unsafe off of the road, helping everyone else be protected while driving.