State grant helps Stamford cops hunt for drunk drivers
STAMFORD — The city’s police department has received another state grant to keep impaired-driving patrols and checkpoints going in Stamford.
Downtown patrol Capt. Diedrich Hohn said the state Department of Transportation awarded Stamford a $108,000 grant to combat drunk and drugged driving.
“The state awarded us the maximum grant amount due to the fact that our numbers last year were very productive in what we got out of the grant,” he said.
Last year police charged 114 drivers with operating under the influence. Also in 2017 there were 49 alcohol related crashes in which 19 people were injured and three killed. Thomas Molgano, 20, was killed along with his passenger Lucas Salem on Feb. 4 when he slammed his pickup truck into a tree on Hope Street. On Jan. 1, a 17-year-old was killed in a crash.
The majority of the drunk- and drugged-driving arrests were made by officers being paid through the state grant, which was given in the same amount to the city in 2017, said Hohn, who made 44 of the 114 arrests.
This year Hohn said he has seen a steep increase of drugged drivers behind the wheel.
“We are seeing a 20 percent increase in drugged drivers from last year,” Hohn said. “It is a problem.”
Hohn and his crew arrested a Stamford man this month who they said was high on heroin. A concerned Stamford resident trailed the swerving driver off Interstate-95 into Darien and eventually back into Stamford, police said. The driver was arrested and charged with operating while under the influence and narcotics possession.
Hohn said with the grant money he will organize a few drunk-driving checkpoints in Stamford over the next five weeks.
Statistics on impaired-driving arrests for this year were not available this week. But Hohn said they most likely will be similar to last year.
“We believe we will continue that trend this coming year with assistance of the grant,” he said.