A pilot program designed to help keep drunk drivers off Fort Bend County roads on New Year’s Eve may continue in 2016 after several people used the free service to get home on the holiday, officials said.
Rob Cook, Fort Bend County Precinct 3 Constable, called the Safe Streets program a success after he and three deputies drove home 14 revelers between midnight and 2 a.m. on Jan. 1.
“We were extremely happy,” Cook said. “We’re going to look to expand it [in 2016]. It was a pilot program, and it worked.”
Cook said he is examining the possibility of providing the service again on St. Patrick’s Day and the Fourth of July.
“We may do the Super Bowl,” Cook said. “It depends if the [Houston] Texans make it or not.”
The program was developed after Cook had a conversation with an acquaintance about drunken driving on various holidays throughout the year.
After consulting with Fort Bend County Attorney Roy Cordes about the legality of the program, Cook received the go-ahead to proceed in mid-December.
The pilot service was limited to an area centered in Cinco Ranch. People who drank too much alcohol were able to call the Constable’s office and ask for a ride home from a private party or a commercial establishment.
“We picked up a total of 14 people,” Cook said. “We were able to take them to their home or near their home in different areas. Some of them were neighbors.”
Cook said the results of the program were proof to detractors that a different method of policing could help make the community safer.
There were at least five deputies on DUI patrol on New Year’s Eve, while three deputies and Cook were on-call to drive home inebriated residents. One person was arrested for DUI in Precinct 3 on New Year’s Eve, Cook said.
“We provided safety for 14 people,” he said. “We couldn’t have done that if they [all] were only on DUI patrols. I had three officers in the office. They were basically able to take 14 people off the streets.”