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Portola , California
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April 8, 2009     Portola Reporter
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April 8, 2009
 

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Bulletin, Progressive, Record, Reporter Wedrbesday, April 8, 2009 9B Five new CliP officers headed to Quincy area questlthis group of additional office(s, saying, "The commis- sioner of the highway patrol Joshua Sebold Staff Writer jsebold@plumasnews.com Quincy Area California Highway Patrol Commander Paul Davis explained an up- coming increase in patrol offi- cers to county supervisors and updated them on his most re- cent statistics at the Tuesday, March 24, board meeting. He began by telling the su- pervisors, "We actually had a real good year last year." He went on to inform them of statistics for the year just ended. The commander said fatal collisions were down by 33 percent, total collisions were down by 5 percent, cita- tions were down by 8 percent, verbal warnings were up by 5 percent, driving under the in- fluence crashes were down by 37 percent and DUI arrests were up by 15 percent com- pared to the prior year. Davis said this amounted to more than 200 DUI arrests, the highest ever for Quincy Area CHP. Headdressed concerns in the community that he thought circulated "every now and then" when people started asking about why there were so many highway patrolmen in this area compared to the number in other counties. "First I would like to say that isn't accurate. We do do business a little differently than maybe some other areas do but for like counties we are like personnel wise, staffed." The commander explained the trends in arrests and DUI collisions have been increas- ing over the last 10 years. He also said he was sur- prised to learn recently that the vast majority of DUI' inci- dents were occurring between 3 and 10 p.m. Davis said this particularly concerned him because that was the time period when most people were on the roads, coming home from school or work. He also said for the first quarter of last year 30 percent of DUI crashes were from pre- scription medications. The commander said these two sta- tistics caused the CHP to alter its shifts and how it did busi- ness, moving some of its prior- ities from late at night and early in the morning to peak hours and paying greater at- tention to its drug recognition program, He added there were now three more people within his command who were "drug recognition experts," focusing mainly on prescription med- ications. "So the contacts be- came a little bit different than what they traditionally were here." He said he did not have the numbers with him at the mo- ment, but that the local CHP made more drug driving ar- rests recently than ever be- fore. "So at the same time that you see some of the increase in the sheriffs department for drug related arrests we're also seeing them on the highway." Davis told the board many of the arrests have been for people with medical marijua- na prescriptions who think that means they can drive while using. He went on to say that, de- spite this fact, most of the ar- rests were from prescription medications. Davis said that in general these were not honest mistake cases, but situations where people abused prescription drugs or knowingly drove un- der the influence of them, against warning labels and doctors' orders. He also said about 50 percent of those ar- rests came from calls from someone who knew the driver or witnessed the driver acting strangely. The commander said this increase in drug related DUI caused a change in CHP' be- havior. "Our contacts are sometimes a little bit different than what they have been tra- ditionally in the past. "People might feel that an officer is being rude to them when in actuality we're look- ing for different things than what we were looking for a year and a hallor two ago. "We're looking for indica- tors that maybe we weren't a couple years ago." At this point Supervisor Ole Olsen asked if marijuana would impair someone's dri- ving similar to alcohol. Davis replied that it could. Olsen went on to say, "My youngest daughter is, she'll be turning 50 next year, and this school in Portola, the teacher said, they were discussing marijuana, 'it's no worse than alcohol.' "And this came up at our dinner table and I said 'well you know from what I under- stand there's like 50,000 fatali- ties in the United States every year from alcohol.' "Now if it's no worse than alcohol, if it's equal to alcohol, and it's legalized, then you're now talking a possibility of a 100,000 rather than 50,000, so that's where the discussion ended and she brought that up in school and was criticized by the teacher." Davis responded, "I would say people don't know. Where [with] alcohol we have a deter- mined standard, .08, marijua- na we have not been able to come up with a, what we, what the courts agreed is the standard of what is under the influence or not. You also build up tolerances and such. "For us and how we do our job is if we pull somebody over and let's say we smell marijuana, we put them through field sobriety tests. "If they pass those field so- briety tests, depending on how they were driving let's say, but if they're able to pass those field sobriety tests we would think they're not in that case under the influence of alcohol." He continued, "I would say that we don't have a clue how many people in the United States have been killed in mo- tor vehicle accidents as a re- sult of marijuana use. I don't think we even have touched on that." The commander then sup- plied the supervisors with sta- tistics for the first quarter of this year. He said DUI arrests were up 60 percent, citations were down 14 percent, verbal warn- ings were up 50 percent and traffic collisions were down 40 percent compared to the first quarter of last year. Davis told the board there would be 24-hour patrol around Quincy this year. Supervisor Robert Meacher asked why Portola, Chester and Greenville wouldn't re- ceive that as well. Davis said he couldn't get enough people. He explained he was getting five new people in Quincy, which would bring the total up to 16. "And that's what it would take, five people to go to 24?" Meacher asked. "Yes because we're on 12- hour shifts, so we have three people on, three people are off," the commander replied. Davis added he didn't re- was a little embarrassed that in the year 2009 we didn't have 24-haur patrol on our state highways so he made a com- mitrent to provide 24-hour patro l . "He also is aware that now more than any time in rural counties, they need the help for assistance and he wants the state to be able to provide that assistance." He mentioned that Su- sanvflle and Trinity River were also making changes or receiving extra personnel to achieve 24-hour coverage. The commander said the coverage would extend from Shady Rest on Highway 70 to the Graeagle/Blairsden turn. He said the current Quincy Area staff consisted of 19 offi- cers, three supervisors and four non-uniform personnel. Davis said a lot of personnel were needed for 24-hour cover- age because cars had to have two officers each for shifts af- ter 10 p.m. Meacher asked how many of the 200 or so DUI arrests were locals. "Cause we always say it's the flatlanders," Thrall added. "Yeah it's not, it's not only, there's some good friends of mine that have been arrest- ed," Davis responded. "They were friends you say?" Olsen quipped. Pacific Gas & Electric reminds customers: Call before you dig As people plan various gar- den and home improvement projects this spring, Pacific Gas and Electric Company reminds customers to always call 811 before digging. Whether it's planting a tree, installing a sprinkler system or building a fence, home- owners and professional ex- cavators need to know where gas and electric lines lie un- derground. The 811 hotline is a free service for important infor- mation on,ttfilities that may lie benefl 'the excavation area. Natural gas pipelines, electric power lines and oth- er utilities buried under- ground can lie within just a few feet of the surface. Acci- dental contact with these lines can be dangerous and even fatal. California law requires customers to notify utilities at least two working days be- fore digging. Calling 811 puts customers in direct contact with Underground Service Alert, a free utility notifica- tion service for anyone who plans any type of excavation project, no matter how small. Customers can call USA from 6 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday, except for holidays. Accidental damage to utili- ty lines can disrupt gas and electric service to an entire neighborhood, cause signifi- cant property damage and 'lead to serious injury. USA notifies local utility compa- nies to go out and mark the approximate location of their underground facilities in and around the excavation site, When undergr()uz iines are STm Buum6s and PoLe B00#s SHOP GARAGE IANGER * WAREHOUSE MINI STORAGE " HORSE BARN HAY BARN or ... you name it! We also do any kind of Repair, Remodel, Restoration, Re-roofing, etc. Dump truck/Backhoe Service available. 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