LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – The way major valley agencies are tackling the issue of DUI driving is changing, following the end of the multijurisdictional effort known as the DUI Strike Team.
There have been a growing number of DUI crashes in the valley.
The big question is what is being done to stop the problem, especially now that the DUI Strike Team no longer exists?
The DUI Strike Team was a joint effort between Metro Police and Nevada Highway Patrol.
It was also supported by the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety.
The goal was to stop impaired drivers behind the wheel by being out on the streets.
Even with it now gone, 8 News Now has learned the work from each participating agency continues.
It has been nearly two years since Misha Escobia lost her father, Marcial, in a DUI crash in Las Vegas, near Tropicana and Rainbow.
“There’s a constant void there,” Misha Escobia said.
Her mother, Nimfa, broke five ribs that day and still suffers.
“The trauma that my family went through is horrific and every day is still a struggle,” Escobia said.
That is why she is disheartened to hear the DUI Strike Team has ended.
“I don’t understand why it’s getting dismantled now that our numbers are going up,” Escobia said.
Andrew Bennett with the Nevada Office of Traffic Safety says the DUI Strike Team disbanded because of staffing at NHP.
More specifically, NHP moved troopers back to the road to focus on calls for service, which includes stopping DUI drivers.
Even with the team now gone, Bennett says the work is far from over.
“The team itself at Metro is continuing, it’s just no longer multijurisdictional,” Bennett said.
The DUI Strike Team is credited with nearly 4,000 arrests since it began in October 2018. A successful DUI blitz, posted to Metro Police’s Facebook page, happened as recently as August 2021.
But the announcement came in early September 2021 that the DUI Strike team had ended.
8 News Now asked Bennett if he believes DUI enforcement will still be as effective without the DUI Strike Team. “I believe in the efforts that we’re doing,” Bennett responded.
Those efforts include ramping up the use of a DUI processing van, like the one utilized by the DUI Strike Team while patrolling valley roadways. Bennett says the vehicle is usually deployed weekly, but that is soon changing.
“Starting October 1st, that van will actually be out three nights a week,” Bennett said. “So, we’re tripling the efforts.”
Bennett tells 8 News Now the DUI Strike Team could come back in the future. That is something Escobia wants to see.
“I think it’s a great service to the public,” Escobia said. “If there’s even a chance that we can prevent something from happening, that can spare another family from losing their father or their husband or dad, then I think that would definitely help.”
8 News Now reached out to Metro Police and Nevada Highway Patrol to learn their specific plans moving forward, but they were not available Friday afternoon.
The North Las Vegas Police Department, which was never affiliated with the DUI Strike Team, told 8 News Now in a statement:
“The North Las Vegas Police Department remains dedicated to keeping our state roads and highways safe by emphasizing the dangers of driving while impaired through regular enforcement. Additionally, our department periodically partners with other jurisdictions to target dangerous driving on our roadways through the Joining Forces campaign. We encourage the public to stay vigilant and report all impaired drivers by calling 311, or 911 in an emergency.”North Las Vegas Police Department