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The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Award

The Peter K. O'Rourke Special Achievement Awards recognize notable achievements in the field of highway safety during the prior calendar year by individuals, coalitions, organizations, nonprofit groups, businesses, government agencies, universities or programs. About Peter K. O'Rourke

2007 Winner: The Fresno Police Department Traffic Enforcement Bureau

All 2007 Highway Safety Award Winners

Fresno Police Department

Under the leadership of Chief Jerry Dyer, the Fresno Police Department has worked tirelessly towards reducing fatal and injury collisions through its H.E.A.R.T. (Help Eliminate Alcohol Re-Offender Team) project. Since the program's inception in 2003, there has been a 60 percent decline in alcohol-related fatalities and a 12 percent reduction in alcohol-related injuries.

H.E.A.R.T. was developed through close cooperation with the Fresno County District Attorney's Office, Probation Department and court system. It was born in response to a fatal collision in which a repeat drunk driver on his tenth DUI left ten young children without a mother. Further investigation revealed that the driver had several DUI arrests that were still unresolved in the court system.

The project has identified and corrected deficiencies in Fresno's alcohol re-offender program by ensuring that the same Assistant District Attorneys are maintained throughout the adjudication process, supplementing probation officers with Fresno Police Department officers and making repeat offender information available to rank and file police officers through the use of HOT SHEETS. It also enhanced DUI enforcement through the aggressive use of sobriety checkpoints and by conducting controversial "bar stings" to catch drunk patrons coming out of bars. In addition, "courtroom stings" were conducted to catch drivers who rode with suspended licenses after being convicted of a DUI. The outreach component of the project included "Reality Check" student press conferences, "Live DUI Sentencing Trials" in high schools and numerous presentations to schools.

The awareness created by H.E.A.R.T. has helped the department increase their total DUI arrests by 26 percent to comparable base years.

Members of the Fresno Police Department, along with the Fresno County DA's office, have arrested and prosecuted over 375 repeat DUI offenders during the life of the project. For the year 2006, 1,009 people were arrested for driving on a suspended license for DUI. Another 320 people were cited for criminal code violation and were served with a suspension for DUI. The H.E.A.R.T. grant gained local, state and national recognition for the successes and innovative approaches for arresting and convicting the worst of the worst repeat DUI offenders.

This program has been featured on the front page of USA TODAY and on "Dateline NBC." The Fresno Police Department has developed the best impaired enforcement program in the country, and is a model for other law enforcement agencies. Total numbers reflect a 29 percent increase over base year 2003 arrests. In fact, the department has conducted more checkpoints than any other law enforcement agency in the country, with 109 DUI checkpoints in 2006, resulting in 678 DUI arrests, 77 other arrests and 4,479 traffic citations.

For more information, contact Fresno Police Department Chief Jerry Dyer, (559) 621-2222, jerry.dyer@ci.fresno.ca.us.