KALAMAZOO COUNTY, Mich. – The Village of Richland, in Kalamazoo County, is leading the state with the amount of arrests made for people operating a vehicle while intoxicated.
Richland Police Chief, Jeff Mattioli said three full-time officers, including himself, made 60 arrests in 2012. Of those, only three were made by Mattioli. He said Sgt. Brad Waddell and police officer, Evan Turanzas split the remaining 57.
According to an MLive report, Richland is leading the state with the amount of OWI arrests made per-officer.
“They’re well trained and aggressive. I’m proud of them,” Chief Mattioli said.
FOX 17 road along with Sgt. Waddell as he patrolled the area. He told us what he looks for while searching for intoxicated drivers.
“It can be anything. It can be a speeding violation. It can be somebody going through a stop sign,” Sgt. Waddell said. “It can be somebody, really, for any violation. It’s just stopping people, making contact [and] letting them know that we are out there looking.”
Each year the department is given a grant from the Michigan Office of Highway Safety Planning. According to Mattioli, the funds pay for overtime, so that the officers can patrol for drunk driving. Of the 60 arrests, 17 of those, were made during grant time hours.
Another contributing factor to the high number of arrests, according to Mattioli, is the two state highways: M-89 and M-43, which run through Richland, connecting cities like Kalamazoo, Battle Creek and Hastings. He said it’s a high-traffic area that brings people in from those surrounding areas.
“I don’t believe that this community [Richland] has a [greater] amount of drunks,” Mattioli said.
While out on patrol with Sgt. Waddell, he told FOX 17 that cracking down on drunk driving means a lot to him and that the entire department will remain proactive.
“To me, arresting a drunk driver could mean saving somebody’s life,” he said. “We’re really glad that they didn’t hit a van full of children.”
Meanwhile, the chief said he wants people to think before they get behind the wheel.
“Make a smart decision. People die because of these decisions,” Mattioli said.