By Dan Campana
The Rockford Police Department closed in on 500 DUI arrests in 2017 as it continued to lead non-Chicago agencies in the Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists annual survey.
Rockford registered 490 total arrests for the year, which marked a nearly seven percent increase over 2016. After a 25 percent jump, Springfield police reported the eighth-most arrests (288) to make it the only newcomer to the Top 10 list that also featured Elgin (418), Decatur (391), Cicero (341), Aurora (326), Lombard (313), Carol Stream (291), Naperville (271) and Normal (246).
AAIM officials noted that Rockford has been a mainstay in the Top 10 since 2007. Chief Daniel O’Shea called roadway safety a top priority and said arresting intoxicated motorists is one way to keep the roads safe for everyone.
“Our ultimate goal is that our consistent presence on the roadway will encourage people to drive sober and safely,” O’Shea said.
Gurnee led all departments in the survey with the highest percentage increase in DUI arrests compared to 2016. The far northern suburb saw its arrest total grow by almost 41 percent, while Aurora also bumped its total by close to 40 percent over the prior year.
Illinois State Trooper Eric David took home AAIM’s 2017 Top Cop honor as he recorded 208 DUI arrests while working in District Chicago last year. Others outside Chicago surpassing the century mark included Springfield Officer Benjamin McGill (132), 2016 Top Cop Rockford Investigator Andrew Hartmann (110) and Elgin Police Officer Paul Dublinski (105).
The Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office landed first in the county division with 571 arrests – an increase of 100 over last year. Lake (254), Cook (250), McHenry (249) and McLean (230) also ranked in the Top five.
AAIM, which was found in 1982, has performed the survey annually since 1990. For 2017, approximately 700 police agencies around Illinois were contacted with 81 percent responding to it.
“While the progress is encouraging, the battle to eliminate driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is far from over,” AAIM Executive Director Rita Kreslin said, adding that there is particular concern about the role of drugs when it comes to intoxicated drivers and traffic crashes. “The complex problem of reducing impaired driving has many facets, including law enforcement training, public awareness strategies, proper prosecution and adjudication to help prevent the senselessness of impaired motor vehicle crashes.”
For more information on the 2017 DUI survey, visit www.aaim1.org.