The Anchorage Police Department is cracking down on drunk drivers. A new unit committed to catching drunk drivers will soon be patrolling the streets of Anchorage during the evening hours.


“In our city, if you drive impaired, you will get caught,” Anchorage police chief Chris Tolley said Monday, standing alongside Mayor Ethan Berkowitz.


The unit will be staffed with six officers, one sergeant and one clerk. Tolley said the department and the municipality have been trying to organize the unit — paid for by a $2 million federal grant — for about two years.


“This crime is 100 percent preventable,” said Tolley, adding that the unit will provide some much needed relief to other officers, since processing a DUI can take as long as three hours.


According to APD, 11 people died in DUI crashes in 2014 and nine were killed last year. Tolley said he wants to get that figure down to zero.


Dayna Durr, the mother of Jordyn Durr, one of two 15-year-old girls killed by a drunk driver in 2013, said APD is making the right move with the unit.


“I’m very pleased to see that now they have this specific team of professionals that are allocated to combat this huge problem of drunk driving,” Durr said.


She also said more must be done to prevent drunk driving.


“There needs to be, in my opinion, tougher consequences for people who don’t take personal responsibility,” said Durr.


She said drivers should realize no one is immune from making a mistake that could change, or end, someone’s life.


“Everyone in the community, in the public, deserves to not have to worry whether they’re going to be injured or killed on their way home,” said Durr.


Officers in the new unit begin patrolling next week. Funding is scheduled to last until 2021. Berkowitz said they plan to have a new funding source secured by that point.


KTVA 11's Eric Ruble can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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