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Posted on Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 5:59 a.m.

Sheriff's Department focuses on catching drunk and drugged drivers in Ypsilanti Township

By Tom Perkins

On August 27, a pedestrian was struck and killed crossing South Harris Road near Share Avenue in Ypsilanti Township.

Right around the same time, another pedestrian was killed when struck by a vehicle near Ford Boulevard and Russell Street.

In both cases, the vehicles’ drivers were found to be intoxicated and were arrested on charges of driving under the influence. The Washtenaw County Prosecutor’s Office is reviewing the cases and awaiting toxicology results from the Michigan State Police crime lab. More serious charges could follow for those drivers.

The fatalities underscore the serious issue of drunk driving in Ypsilanti Township, and elected officials there have raised concerns over it.

Since September, the Washtenaw County Sherriff’s Department has responded by stepping up drunk driving enforcement and now has three deputies who are Michigan State Police-certified drug recognition experts. That’s more than any other state agency except the State Police, and it means the Sheriff’s Department is looking not only for drunk drivers, but for drivers under the influence of drugs.

While that operation has been underway since August, the Sheriff’s Department also received grant money specifically to pay deputies overtime to work DUI enforcement in Ypsilanti Township throughout the holidays, which means the department is on especially high alert.


The Sheriff's Department has three deputies who are trained to recognize drivers under the influence of drugs.

Photo Courtesy of the Washtenaw County Sheriff's Department

“What we want to emphasize is that if you’re driving in Ypsilanti Township and you’re drinking or on drugs, there’s going to be a high likelihood that you’re going to be stopped and arrested,” said Lt. Jim Anuszkiewicz.

Statistics already show a sharp increase in the number of DUI arrests since the program was implemented.

From January to August 2012, there were 24 drunk driving arrests. From September 1 to October 29, there were 30 DUI arrests. Anuszkiewicz said most arrests come between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.

“We have been concentrating on it more and we’ve been training all of our staff to be aware of drunk drivers,” Anuszkiewicz said. “There were some serious accidents over the summer and fatalities over the last few months, and this will help.”

Deputy Doug McMullen is one of the three deputies trained in drug recognition. He said when another deputy recognizes that a motorist's behavior is impaired but can’t determine why, he gets called in.

McMullen conducts a psycho-physical evaluation that includes basic motor skills tests, an interview, pulse measurements, body temperature measurement, blood pressure and other tests.

“The body responds predictably to certain kind of drugs,” McMullen explained.

Marijuana is the most common drug deputies find, McMullen said, but they also find drivers under the influence of cocaine, heroin and prescription drugs. Prescription drugs have been a big focus because of their increased popularity and their exaggerated effects when combined with alcohol.

McMullen and the two other Sheriff’s Department deputies spent two weeks training in-house for the program at the Michigan State Police headquarters. They then completed field training in Arizona.

"What we’re proud of in Ypsilanti Township is that we have three specific deputies trained in drug recognition tactics that they can use for OUILs and narcotics. There are only a select few people in the state,“ Anuszkiewicz said. “Sometimes it takes a special kind of training to detect someone under the influence of narcotics.”


William Maze

Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:46 p.m.

Michigan is one of the last states to implement the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP) program, and I recently had the pleasure of cross-examining one of these newly-minted Drug Recognition Experts (DRE) in Southfield, Michigan. This sorry soul couldn't perform the HGN test correctly and opted to also incorrectly perform a lack of convergence test roadside. I am convinced that DRE program has fallen into a state of disgrace accepting any cop into the program and passing them wholesale, telling all these officers to talk about green tongue and other nonsense. I hope that these Washtenaw county boys took their course work a little more seriously, even though I am dubious of the witchcraft and voodoo of the DEC program. I look forward to reviewing your logs, officers!

Wes Evans

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 : 6:42 a.m.

Dear Mr. Maze I happen to be involved in the DEC and know every DRE in this state. Each one was a good OWI officer with excellent credentials that were verified before they were accepted into the program. Not one of them is a "sorry soul" and all are good people concerned about public safety in their communities. If you have legitimate complaints about the program that are based on science, please feel free to express them. I do however find it disturbing an offensive that you would resort to calling people, all of whom I consider friends and colleagues, insulting names. In my view this is, among other things unbecoming of an adult and of someone who has issues with being able to express their opinions without offending others. I regret that I can't communicate with you face-to-face, as my sincerity and love of the program would come across more clearly in person. I do not practice "witchcraft" or "voodoo" and you can look at my rolling log anytime.


Tue, Nov 27, 2012 : 7:59 p.m.

can you comment further about the capacity in which you would find yourself reviewing as such?


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 11:17 p.m.

This is great news for all. Thanks guys in advance, because I won't meet with any of you. I don't drink or do drugs at home, let alone drive on either.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 7:07 p.m.

Now if the Judges would only support the hard work of the Deputy's, rather than handing out a simple "slap on the hand"


Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 6:11 p.m.

what do you know about slaps on the hand? what is the basis for your comment? please describe the average penalty for a driver convicted of operating under the influence. my guess is you have little idea what you are commenting about and while doing so perpetuating the myth that in itself leads to the continuation of these driving guidelines being broken. whats the deterrent if its only a slap on the wrist right?

Basic Bob

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 11:08 a.m.

They most certainly do! In many cases the threat of prison is enough to get an addict or alcoholic to pursue treatment and a recovery program. And suddenly they stop appearing in front of the judge anymore. Compare this to the eighties when they just gave people rides home - not so scary.


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 6:25 p.m.

Best of luck to you, gentleman(the one in the middle's kind of cute...)!


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 8:39 p.m.

I had to call the cops over the summer and the one in the middle responded. He's very nice too! Don't get to say that too often about cops!

Tom Todd

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 5:19 p.m.

kinda thinking about getting rid of plates and insurance, I never see police on the roads


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 4:41 p.m.

The sheriff interviewed means biz. He is part of our Neighborhood Watch. Now, if only they would send more sheriff to our street to catch speeders. But yes, I am glad this is happening. Long over due.

Little Patience

Mon, Nov 26, 2012 : 12:03 a.m.

Couldn't agree more. We have a resident in our sub that flies by each morning while kids are going to the bus. I'm glad they are going after those driving under the influence, but lets do something about these speeders too.

Michigan Man

Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 3:11 p.m.

Very nice program. Wish the fine officers great success! More recognition, I suppose, for Ypsilanti Township?


Sun, Nov 25, 2012 : 2:38 p.m.

Good for Ypsi Twp!