No holiday blitz, but Calgary police warn they're always on watch for drunk drivers
'You don't know when we're going to be out there or where we're going to be at'
Calgary police used to ring in the month of December with warnings of a holiday checkstop blitz, often with attention-grabbing names such as "Operation Enough is Enough."
From 2008 through 2013, police even staged daytime checkstops, looking to nab those who got into the holiday spirit as part of their work day.
There may be no official holiday campaign this year, but Acting Staff Sgt. Dale Seddon of the CPS traffic section says officers are on watch 24/7.
"The checkstop program runs all year long," said Seddon. "It can be any day of the week. We cover the calendar and we cover the clock, so you don't know when we're going to be out there or where we're going to be at."
Extra checkstops, such as the mid-afternoon traffic jammers of Decembers past, are funded by the province under the Enhanced Alberta Checkstop Program.
"We do get extra funding from the province to run some additional checkstop programs relative to what we already do ourselves," said Seddon.
"In the summertime, the Calgary Stampede in particular is a time we like to run a few extra checkstops. And then again, the province helps us out here in the Christmas holiday season and the New Year with some funding for some extra checkstops."
Funding for this year is projected to be $425,000 provincewide.
Alberta Transportation says the Calgary Police Service requested funding for five checkstops and was allotted $50,000 in funding. In the past, CPS has requested funding for between four and 10 checkstops, said the agency.
Denise Dubyk, the vice-president of the Calgary chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Canada, says she's noticed media attention to impaired driving and awareness campaigns has "really slowed down over the last little while."
"I think it's because the message can't be said too many other ways than don't drive impaired," said Dubyk. "We can only say the same message over and over, and I think people get tired of hearing that same thing."
Dubyk would love to see a return of the daytime checkstops but she says Calgarians should be grateful for the work police are doing.
"Our police service is the only police service in Canada that does checkstops every week of the year, four times a week, every year."
"We may not be as vocal about where we're going to be," said Seddon. "There's a bit of a covert effect to it. We're aware that drivers will look to use roads less travelled when they're trying to get home and they want to be obscure about it. We know those roads that people use, so we are there."
Seddon says the new federal alcohol-impaired driving law will be put to the test this holiday season, too. Starting Dec 18, every driver waved into a checkstop will be obliged to submit to roadside screening tests.
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