The sheriff’s department has conducted more checkpoints in the city of Coachella than any other city in The Coachella Valley over the past 12 months. In theory, the checkpoints are there to get drunk drivers off of the roads and make the streets safer. One problem: when the checkpoint is always in the same spot, drivers may learn to simply drive around it.
Amazingly, the fact that drivers would always know where the cops were was not even the rational for moving the checkpoints! Instead a number of restaurants and stores on a stretch of Grapefruit Boulevard near downtown where the checkpoints are consistently held complained that the police presence was costing them business.
“Your concerns have definitely been voiced to my staff and we will be moving them around,” Lt. Misty Reynolds, assistant police chief at the Riverside County Sheriff Department’s Thermal station,said during last week’s city council meeting.
This made Mayor Eduardo Garcia happy. He said, “It isn’t my intention to do away with a proactive approach to deal with DUI prevention, but simply that we move them around.”
Of course, a “proactive approach” would be to spend the money allocated for checkpoints on a complimentary “paddy wagon” shuttle service, thus insuring drunk drivers never head out on the roads in the first place. Imagine TSA screeners checking for explosives in passenger’s luggage after the plane is already in the air – that is kind of how DUI checkpoints work. Though I guess it will help to actually move them around once in a while.