Lake County Sheriff John Buncich told the Region News Team his department's patrols include some very heavily-traveled and well-known highways in the Region. "We're stepping up our efforts starting next week," Sheriff Buncich said, with concentrated efforts in the rural and unincorporated areas, as well as the heavily-traveled Cline Avenue corridor and Route 41.
Police are in the midst of an Operation Pull Over blitz that began November 8th and continues through December first that combines high-visibility seatbelt and impaired driving patrols. Extra patrols are also planned for Thanksgiving eve, referred to at “Blackout Wednesday” by law enforcement who say it's becoming the biggest drinking holiday of the year, surpassing New Year's Eve.
Thanksgiving Eve, or "Blackout Wednesday," is "quickly becoming the biggest drinking holiday of the year," said Hammond Police Chief Brian Miller, surpassing New Year's Eve, and with so many motorists on the roads for the Thanksgiving travel period, Chief Miller says they feel it creates "a deadly mix".
Also in Hammond, City Court Judge Jeffrey Harkin has raised the bond to $2000.00 cash for anyone arrested for driving while intoxicated. Arraignment will be Monday morning (December 2, 2013) following the holiday. "It’s my hope that by announcing these patrols and making our presence known, we will deter people from driving drunk," Miller said. "Please plan your partying with safety in mind. Always use a designated driver, and if that fails call a friend or a cab."
Hammond Police Lt. Patrick Vicari says in Hammond the ongoing crackdown also includes pedestrian traffic safety enforcement. "The Thanksgiving holiday is one of the busiest travel times in Indiana," Vicari said, "and It's the goal of the law enforcement agencies in this area to keep travelers safe while driving on our highways and our city streets."
Police also want to make sure motorists and their passengers are buckling up. "It's the best way to protect yourself against injury in a crash as well as your loved one," said Indiana State Police Trooper Glen Fifield. Fifield also said if you see someone driving in a manner you suspect of being impaired, there's" a high probability you're right," and people are encouraged to call 911 immediately.
Commander of the Lake County Traffic Safety Partnership, St. John Police Officer Steve Rudzinski added, "We just want to make sure people in this county and throughout Indiana are safe."