There is no doubt that Michigan faces a gargantuan budget deficit, which by some estimates may reach as high as 3 Billion this year. According to a May 5, 2009 Free Press article, Granholm’s answer to this budget shortfall is to slash the total number of state employees. State Police funding would be cut by $9 million, eliminating 100 jobs and thereby reducing the number of troopers on patrol by nearly 10%.
There is a direct correlation in the number of police patrols and the number of arrests. This much is obvious because if there are fewer patrols there will be fewer traffic stops and consequently, fewer drunk driving arrests.
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s “DWI Detection and Standardized Field Sobriety Testing” Instructor’s Manual”:
The training (standardized field sobriety training) is based on the premise that officers perform two fundamental tasks which affect the likelihood of apprehending and convicting impaired drivers. The first of these tasks is Detection. (Emphasis in original). Page 2, Administrator’s Guide HS178 R1/02.
The instructor’s manual further indicates at page II-2 that in a Weekend Enforcement Program in the late 1970′s increased patrols resulted in an increase in arrests of 500%! Additionally, that for every DWI violator arrested, there are between 500 and 2,000 undetected DWI violations. Id. at II-4.
Earlier this year Governor Graholm passed Michigan’s new super drunk law. This now appears to essentially be an unfunded mandate. Regardless of how strong the drunk driving laws may be, if there are fewer cops on the beat there will be fewer DWI arrests and fewer DWI convictions. Certainly there must be other areas of waste that can and should be cut ahead of the State Police budget.
Ironically, according to one state rep, more furlough days would not save money because the state would have to pay much more in unemployment benefits for laid-off employees.