A newly formed Suffolk County East End DWI Task Force deployed for the first time this weekend to clamp down on motorists driving under the influence of drugs and alcohol, netted 15 arrests, including 9 for DWI, and 47 traffic tickets, at a Southampton checkpoint over the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
More than a dozen law enforcement agencies teamed up and pooled resources to target areas with increased enforcement over the busy holiday, the first time that the task force was in action. At Southampton’s checkpoint, on Montauk Highway near the intersection with County Road 39A on Saturday night, 16 officers from Southampton Town Police, the Suffolk County sheriff’s office, Southampton Village Police, East Hampton Town Police, East Hampton Village Police and Quogue Village Police worked together from about 9 p.m. to midnight, making 9 DWI arrests, two arrests each for driving while ability impaired by drugs and driving while ability impaired by alcohol, one for third-degree aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and one for unlawful possession of marijuana.
Two other East End DWI Task Force checkpoints were set up in Quogue Village and Riverhead Town, also on Saturday night, from about 8 p.m. to 4 a.m.
The task force is being funded by Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas Spota’s office, as well as a statewide Special Traffic Options Program for Driving While Intoxicated-DWI, or STOP-DWI, program. Police officers were sworn in as special D.A.’s office investigators so that they could be authorized to work in jurisdictions outside their own, according to Robert Clifford, a spokesman for the D.A.’s office.
The task force will focus on the five East End towns and numerous villages not served by the Suffolk County Police Department.
“Local police departments in the five towns and villages don’t have the resources to focus solely on drunk and drugged drivers on holiday weekends,” Suffolk County District Attorney Thomas J. Spota is quoted as saying in a news release announcing the initiative. “This team strategy will augment local law enforcement and make the expansion of the enforcement action on the East End more mobile and responsive.
Police called the first weekend’s effort productive.
“It operated extremely efficiently,” Southampton Town Police Chief William Wilson Jr. said. “All the members of the different agencies worked well together.”
Participating police agencies include East Hampton Town, East Hampton Village, New York State Troopers, Sag Harbor Village, Southampton Village, Southampton Town, Westhampton Beach Village, Quogue Village, Riverhead Town, Shelter Island Town, the Suffolk County Parks Police, the Suffolk County sheriff’s office and Suffolk County Police.
Last year over Memorial Day weekend, Southampton Town Police, Southampton Village Police and the Suffolk County sheriff’s office coordinated a safety checkpoint in Southampton that netted 10 arrests, for charges including DWI and felony weapon possession, in about four hours.