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Citizen DUI task force helps police make dozens of arrests

By Joe Vigil 9:34 PM July 28, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

The more you drink and drive, the more likely it is that you’re going to run into the citizen DUI task force on Anchorage streets.

The problem for drunk drivers is they will never see volunteers coming because they use their own cars to help police track down offenders. Task force members call 911 if they spot a drunk driver. Police will send an officer, if a unit is available, to possibly make a DUI arrest.

KTVA 11 reported on the task force back in December. At that point, the citizen volunteer group was responsible for helping police make 19 DUI arrests. From August 2013 through this June, APD says the group has helped the department catch 103 drunk drivers.

“Some of those 103 might have crashed into somebody and killed or injured them before we got onto them,” said Anchorage Police Department Chief Mark Mew.

APD says volunteers have logged 3,242 hours of their own time on patrol. The department has also honored at least six men and women for individually donating more than 200 hours to the effort.

Task force volunteer Bruce Burns says he’s motivated by what happened to his brother after he returned home from the Vietnam War.

“My little brother got killed by a drunk driver,” Burns said. He said he doesn’t want it to happen to other people.

A number of volunteers have also received what’s called an ACE award. It goes to people who have helped police catch more than 10 drunk drivers.

Volunteer Nick Hornshuh works 40 hours a week Monday through Friday. On Fridays, just a few hours after getting off work, he’s back at work patrolling the streets.

“No weekend. This is my life for the weekends, is doing this,” Hornshuh said.

KTVA 11 caught up with Howdi Rambur around 3:40 a.m. on a recent weekend. We asked why he makes the effort.

“The reason I’m out here is because it’s got to stop,” Rambur said.

The citizen DUI task force was set up last summer after a wave of suspected drunk driving deaths. Included in those deaths are 15-year-olds Jordyn Durr and Brooke McPheters, who were struck by a suspected drunk driver while on a walking path.

KTVA 11 just learned that their parents may join the citizen DUI task force. They’ve all applied to be part of the Anchorage Police Citizen Academy and may eventually hit the streets themselves looking for drunk drivers.

“Let’s do the next step and lets help our police officers out however we can. If it means riding in our car at three in the morning, or two in the morning until six in the morning, then that’s what we do,” said Brooke McPheter’s father Gary.

Police encourage others to join the Anchorage Police Citizen Academy. The application deadline is Aug. 15. You can get more information about the academy at apcaaa.org.

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