Post names of suspected drunk drivers on police website? Huntington Beach considers idea
Huntington Beach police are considering a new -- and high public -- way to deal with drunk drivers.
Hoping to crackdown in DUI cases in Surf City, the Police Department is considering a plan to post the names of those arrested on suspicion of drunk driving on its website.
"DUIs are a public safety issue," said police Lt. Russell Reinhart. "Public awareness of the problem, and scope of the problem, is one way of addressing any public safety concern."
The department is considering posting the names, which are public record, online, not to embarrass people, but to send a message that Huntington is enforcing DUIs, he said.
"It's not a wall of shame we're looking to put up," Reinhart said.
For the last three years, on average, the department has made 1,700 DUI arrests a year.
Police submitted a report this month to the City Council identifying drinking and driving as a "significant problem" in Huntington Beach and detailed proposed strategies for preventing and reducing the crime.
Tactics already include notifying establishments where those arrested for DUI had their last drink, DUI checkpoints and participating in Every 15 Minutes programs in schools. And police are asking the city to fund a third motorcycle officer for its DUI enforcement team.
Posting offenders' names online would take enforcement into the digital age. Department officials did not know how many other Orange County cities, if any, posted suspected offenders' names online.
The Police Department considered publishing the names of those arrested for DUI after the Huntington Beach Independent stopped publishing a weekly DUI list in December, according to the city report. The Independent decided to ax the standing feature after a change in editorial policy.
Huntington's DUI rate was the third-highest for Orange County cities with similar populations in 2008, according to the report.
"We have a murder once every couple of years in Huntington Beach, but we have a dozen or so people killed in alcohol-related crashes every year," Reinhart said.
-- Britney Barnes