The Greenfield Police Department made six arrests for suspicion of drunken driving during a major deployment of force over St. Patrick's Day weekend, according to information released Monday.
Greenfield police, participating with many metro area municipal police departments plus the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Department and the State Patrol, made 36 traffic stops and handed out 28 citations for all types of violations Saturday and Sunday.
Of the six arrests made by Greenfield police, one was a third-timer and one a second-offender who also was arrested after fleeing for resisting arrest, recklessly endangering safety and battery.
Metro-wide, there were 49 OWI arrests among 574 stops, with 423 citations doled out and 205 warnings issued. Law enforcement officers incidentally rounded up 12 people wanted on warrants.
With 28 deputies deployed on Task Force duty, Milwaukee County made the most stops, 127, and arrested the most drunken driving suspects, 12, of any department.
Milwaukee and Wauwatosa, with seven OWI arrests each, led all municipal departments.
Holiday leads to drinking early and often
"I wish I could say we had 600 contacts and made no arrests," said Wauwatosa Lt. Tim Sharpee, who is Task Force coordinator for the region. "But that wasn't the case."
"We had our streetside roll call in front of Mo's at 3 p.m., earlier than we usually do, because we did want that presence to be very visible before people really started to get into the heart of the weekend," Sharpee said.
"But you know what? We made our first arrest at 2 p.m. So we already had one in the lockup before we really started."
"We don't want to be joykills," Sharpee said. "If you want to drink and have fun, go right ahead. But don't drive!
"Some of our Task Force officers are getting pretty upset, really, that people keep doing this. So know that we will enforce. There are no warnings."
On a personal note, Sharpee said, he doesn't want to share the road with drunken drivers when he ought to feel safe.
"On a weekend like this, there are people drinking heavily in the morning," he said. "Sunday was a beautiful day. I was out and about, taking my kids to activities — and I feel unsafe because of who else might be on the road.
"I don't think I should have to feel that way."
Sharpee did note a couple of positives that lead him to believe that some people are getting the message.
"One of our officers stopped a young driver who was weaving in traffic," he said. "But he was stone sober. He offered to take a breath test, but he said he was the designated driver and he hadn't had a drink.
"He was weaving because everybody else in the car was totally drunk and he kept turning his head to tell them to shut up. Our officer urged him to keep his eyes on the road and did lean in and tell his drunk friends to calm down so he could drive."
Some 'lowlights' of the deployment
Sharpee said that besides the OWI arrests, one officer on Task Force duty stopped a group of juveniles in a stolen car.
"That's the 'dolphin in the tuna net,' this time," he said. "We do catch other actors during these deployments. On one, it was an armed robbery suspect."
Sharpee's regional report reflected some similar by-catch. Hales Corners arrested one underage drinker among its two OWI offenders and a State Patrol officer netted a drug offender.
Milwaukee PD had a fourth-time offender, one under the influence of a controlled substance, and one who had a concealed weapon while intoxicated, bringing an arrest for endangering safety by use of a dangerous weapon.
Greendale had two arrests before the start of the deployment, one a third offense and the other a first-offense causing injury.
Menomonee Falls had a busy deployment with a fifth-time offender, three drug arrests, and the recovery of a stolen vehicle.
An accident not waiting to happen
The single full OWI report filed Monday morning by Wauwatosa police illustrates just how dangerous a heavy-drinking driver can be to himself and others.
At 1:10 a.m. Sunday, a 23-year-old Brookfield man was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving, first offense, after a traffic stop in the 2900 block of Menomonee River Parkway.
A patrol officer saw the man driving slowly on the rim of his front left wheel, the tire missing all together.
The suspect’s speech was slow and slurred, and he was unaware he was missing a tire. In fact, the officer said, he seemed shocked to hear it.
He failed field sobriety tests and blew a .28 blood alcohol concentration on a breath test — 3½ times the state's proscribed limit.
An hour after the stop, the man still could not recall how he had lost his front tire or how far he’d driven on the rim, but said he’d come all the way from Water Street in downtown Milwaukee.
"That is just the sort of driver who is going to plough into somebody or something," Lt. Sharpee said. "In fact, he apparently did, and he's lucky he or somebody else wasn't injured or killed."