The number of Michigan drunk driving arrests fell almost 30% between 1999 and 2008, the last year for which statics are available.
The question many are looking to answer is whether or not the decline is a good thing or bad. In a recent Detroit News article, Laura Berman suggests:
You might think that Michigan’s long-running series of unfortunate events would drive Michigan residents to drink. Depressed and with time on their hands, these drinking and sometimes drunken residents should, logic suggests, create a spike in the state’s drunken driving arrests.
So the question becomes: is the decrease in arrests because MADD’s message has finally gotten across, and fewer people are actually driving drunk, or is it because fewer police are out arresting drunk drivers?
According to the Detroit News, many reasons have been suggested for this yearly decline in Michigan drunk driving arrests, including the fact that “Michigan has lost 2,168 law enforcement positions since 2001, creating gaps in enforcement that enable people to drink and drive without getting caught.”
In fact, when the statics are released, it is expected that they will show that Michigan drunk driving arrests fell an additional 10% from 2008 to 2009. It is very possible that this unprecedented decline is from even deeper cuts to police forces throughout the state. Even the city of Plymouth has indicated they may cut up to half of their police force. Monroe is also set to make deep cuts. The same is true throughout the State.
According to the Wall Street Journal, this trend to cut police forces to save money is a nationwide trend. For example:
Since January, Tulsa has laid off 89 police officers, 11% of its force. That has pushed the city to the forefront of a national movement, spurred by hard times, to revamp long-held policing strategies.
The Journal further reports:
Arrests citywide were down about 25% in February and March, compared with the previous year. Through the end of March, county prosecutors, who get most of their cases from Tulsa police, had filed 20% fewer felony cases than last year.
If the trend holds, that could indicate the city is safer. But some officers believe arrests are down because the detective corps was cut by nearly 20%, so fewer crimes are being investigated.
It certainly stands to reason that the same is true for Michigan drunk driving arrests. With fewer police on the streets one would expect DUI arrests to decline.
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