• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
2m 25s

Volunteers get drunk to help APD recruits

By Heather Hintze 5:36 AM February 14, 2014

APD's 'wet lab' allows new recruits to practice their field sobriety tests on intoxicated people.

ANCHORAGE - It may have been 9 a.m. in Anchorage but it was five o’clock somewhere.

“I can make a rum and Coke. Vodka and 7Up, gin and tonic. Shots, beer,” said Anna VenHuizen, a police clerk with the Anchorage Police Department.

Thursday, APD held a “wet lab” to help new recruits practice their field sobriety skills.

Before the tests, the volunteers have to get drunk.

“It’s always a fun time. I’m sure it will be a fun time for you by the time we get to noon here,” said Officer Steve Dunn.

KTVA 11’s MJ Thim was one of the participants along with a group of municipal prosecutors who asked not to be identified or have their faces shown on camera when they’d been drinking.

Dunn explained the rules of the training.

Once volunteers started drinking they had to be escorted to the bathroom or out for a smoke break. They weren’t allowed to share drinks. They were encouraged to eat plenty of snacks, drink water and pace themselves, and each was required to have a designated driver or cab pick them up after training.

One of the most important rules: “No table dancing. All the clothes stay on,” Dunn laughed.

Each person got a calculated number of drinks based on their height and weight. In MJ’s case, he had to have seven drinks through the course of the day.

“The first hour to hour and a half … I’d like you to get at least half of that down. You’re like, ‘Oh my God,’” Dunn chuckled.  “Trust me by the time you get that down you’re like, ‘That’s it? All I get is seven today?’”

They started drinking around 9 a.m. Many of the women chose mimosas, while most of the men chose beer or gin and tonics.

“They’re having fun. So far, so good,” said Officer Chris Ritala. ”We’re well on track.”

“I’m on beer number three and I’m definitely feeling it,” said MJ as he took a swig of a Bud Light Platinum.

The group turned on the music and ramped up the drinking. The goal was to get their blood alcohol content to .1 up to a .15 within three hours.

Then it was the new recruits’ turn to go to work. They performed three types of field sobriety tests: checked a person’s eyes, had them walk in a straight line and made them stand on one foot.

“The officers are looking for a person’s inability to hold their leg up for a period of 30 seconds, use their arms for balance, noticeable sway or if they’re hopping,” Ritala said. “Out of those four clues, two clues is the decision point.”

The hands-on training is crucial for new recruits.

The more time they have to practice with drunk people in a controlled environment, the better prepared they’ll be when they hit the streets of Anchorage.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Anchorage family wants justice after 12-year-old deaf boy’s dog killed in hit and run

    by Sierra Starks on Sep 30, 20:20

    A broken red collar is a reminder that there’s something missing at Valerie Anderson’s East Anchorage home. It’s the collar that belonged to Scooby Doo, the family’s labrador retriever, who was 12-year-old J.J. Anderson’s best friend. J.J has special needs and wears cochlear implants to hear. The family got Scooby to be a companion for […]

  • Lifestyle

    Make it Alaskan Festival kicks off holiday craft show season

    by Heather Hintze on Sep 30, 18:59

    Like its name suggests, everything you’ll find at the Make it Alaskan Festival is made in Alaska. While most of the 140 vendors came with a complete inventory to the show at the Sullivan Arena, artists like Sarah Chatfield continued to piece together products in their free time. “I try to stay busy while I’m […]

  • News

    UAA team works to find new ways to bring running water to rural Alaska

    by Lauren Maxwell on Sep 30, 18:55

    It’s something most people in Anchorage take for granted — running water. But according to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), more than 3,300 homes in rural Alaska don’t have running water or a flush toilet. Several years ago the DEC started the Water and Sewer Challenge. Teams were challenged to find innovative ways to bring […]

  • News

    APD: 1 dead in West Anchorage industrial accident

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 30, 17:48

    A man was killed, Friday afternoon, when a wall he and another man were removing collapsed, the Anchorage Police Department (APD) wrote in a release. Few details were immediately available, but at 3:34 p.m. emergency responders were called to a four-plex on the 1500 block of W. 40 Avenue. Police said the men were removing […]

  • Lifestyle

    DOF: Alaska wraps up minor fire season

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 30, 15:40

    Alaska had an early start to the wildfire season, but the Division of Forestry (DOF) says the total number of acres burned this year were “well below normal level.” In a release from DOF, the agency wrote there were 558 fires, which burned 500,095 acres. In Interior Alaska, during the two summer months that typically […]

  • News

    UN appoints first expert on LGBT violence and discrimination

    by Associated Press on Sep 30, 15:09

    UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The Human Rights Council has appointed international human rights expert Vitit Muntarbhorn of Thailand as the first U.N. independent expert charged with investigating violence and discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. John Fisher, Geneva director of Human Rights Watch, said his appointment on Friday “made history” and “will bring […]

  • News

    Berkowitz announces cuts to fill $40M budget gap, plans to increase police force

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Sep 30, 13:35

    The Municipality of Anchorage faces an estimated $40 million budget gap, according to numbers released by Mayor Ethan Berkowitz at a meeting Friday. The municipality’s 2017 budget is $502 million, up from $497 million in 2016. “We are dealing with tough times in Anchorage and we are dealing with tough times because the state has […]

  • News

    Consumer demand for Alaska cruises growing again

    by Rachel D'Oro / AP on Sep 30, 13:28

    A growing consumer demand for Alaska cruises has put the state back in the million-passenger club as it rebounds after a leaner stretch. And next year is expected to be even better with larger capacity ships added to the Far North lineup. The millionth passenger was counted as the Alaska cruise industry’s season was nearing […]