Burbank Police Conduct DUI Checkpoint; Emphasizes Public Safety Over Arrests

File Photo of a recent checkpoint in 2015 (Photo by © Ross A. Benson)

Burbank Police Conduct DUI Checkpoint; Emphasizes Public Safety Over Arrests

On the evening of August 26, 2023, the Burbank Police Department Traffic Bureau initiated a DUI and driver’s license checkpoint to deter drivers from taking the wheel under the influence. The operation occurred on Olive Avenue between Maple Street and Hollywood Way from 9:00 p.m. to 12:15 a.m.

This strategic location was selected based on its DUI-related incidents and arrests history. The Burbank Police emphasizes that the core objective of such operations is not to maximize arrests but to underline the importance of public safety and deterrence.

According to Sergeant Fletcher Stone of the Burbank Police Traffic Bureau, the operation saw over 300 vehicles screened, with an average pass-through time of 20 seconds. The results of the night were as follows:

  • Five drivers received citations for operating without a valid license.
  • Two individuals were handed citations for traffic violations.
  • Two arrests were made for driving under the influence.

These statistics shed light on the checkpoint’s primary objective: while arrests were made, the emphasis was ensuring that drivers recognized the severe consequences of impaired driving.

The Burbank Police Department’s endeavors align with the objectives of the national organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving (M.A.D.D.). M.A.D.D. has been influential in creating awareness about the dangers of driving intoxicated and has long been an advocate for establishing such DUI checkpoints. Their data consistently shows that high-visibility enforcement, like DUI checkpoints, can reduce drunk driving fatalities by as much as 20%.

Furthermore, the Burbank Police Department announced that they will be rolling out DUI saturation patrols in the coming months, a move aimed at further ensuring the safety of Burbank roads. The funding for these safety operations has been secured through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety, courtesy of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The collective message from these organizations and operations remains clear: the goal isn’t to catch people in the act, but to prevent the act from happening in the first place. The safety of all road users remains paramount.

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    1. I strongly advocate for the reevaluation of current practices involving police roadblocks, except in cases of emergency such as accidents or natural disasters. While the importance of a robust police force is undeniable, it is crucial to scrutinize the allocation of our tax dollars for these specific operations. The Burbank Police Department has a history of employing high-ranking detectives at premium overtime rates for these duties. Though these activities are often described as being funded by “grants,” it is imperative to clarify that this money ultimately comes from taxpayers.

      It is essential to emphasize that even when a program is funded through a grant, that funding is still sourced from taxpayer contributions. The more programs we have funded through any source including grants, the higher our taxes inevitably rise. This comment serves as a call to action for stronger fiscal responsibility from our elected officials at county, state, and federal levels. It is time for them to exercise restraint and discontinue the funding of well-intentioned yet expensive and low-return programs.

      I have been informed by individuals who are knowledgeable about the inner workings of the department that the command staff, including the Chief of Police, feel compelled to implement these roadblocks due to the “use it or lose it” nature of grant funding. Additionally, it is alleged that higher-paid staff, such as detectives, actively seek out these assignments over beat and patrol officers.

      For those interested in scrutinizing the financial implications, the overtime costs for these activities are publicly available. You can review the 2022 figures at the following link: https://www.burbankca.gov/documents/174345/591323/2022.pdf/30b5127d-e7f3-b44f-d402-ad62a3e31fd4?t=1674836618508. It is noteworthy that these costs have soared under the current City Manager, contrasting sharply with the more modest figures from 2012, which are available for comparison at this link: https://www.burbankca.gov/documents/174345/591323/2012.pdf/8fb2eec1-1251-0372-0c53-67bb037f4b8d?t=1611180849650.

      Rather than focusing on periodic roadblocks that yield limited results, a more efficient use of resources would involve elevating consistent, year-round patrolling of our streets. My concerns extend to the current level of administrative staff within the department. Public records reveal that an inordinate amount of time is devoted to activities not directly related to public safety, such as special event permits, “buyback” programs, and non-essential projects.

      The surge in overtime expenses since the current City Manager took office suggests a lack of effective financial management. The City of Burbank would benefit substantially from elected leadership capable of controlling these spiraling costs, in my opinion. I am calling for elected mayors. The current Council, sans one person, is a “go along to get along” group of people.

      In conclusion, I recommend that the city cease the practice of roadblocks, decline the associated grants, and focus its efforts on reducing taxes rather than pouring money into inefficient programs. I urge everyone to examine the overtime figures for themselves and join me in advocating for a more fiscally responsible approach to public safety.

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