• 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

    Japanese utility companies optimistic about investing in Alaska’s natural gas

    by Liz Raines on Jul 26, 20:55

    Governor Bill Walker wants to lower the price tag on Alaska’s natural gas pipeline project, AKLNG. Currently at $45 to $65 billion, it’s one of the most expensive in the world. Now, a Japanese energy developer, Resources Energy, Inc. (REI), says its utility companies would be willing to chip in for cheaper gas. Alaska currently partners […]

  • News

    Will Fish and Game open Fish Creek to dipnetting this weekend?

    by Bonney Bowman on Jul 26, 20:30

    Dipnetting is serious business for Alaskans looking to stock their freezers ahead of winter. With the season quickly winding down, many are wondering if Fish Creek in the Mat-Su will open to subsistence dipnetting. It’s been closed so far, because the Alaska Department of Fish and Game says not enough salmon have passed through their […]

  • Lifestyle

    Business accelerator program aims to help small businesses flourish in Alaska

    by Heather Hintze on Jul 26, 18:22

    After two years in business, Heather Kelly has seen the demand for more healthy options when it comes to backcountry camping food. That’s the concept behind her startup, Heather’s Choice: dehydrated meals made with Alaskan ingredients like smoked salmon. “We’ve steadily grown. Today we’re sitting at $31,000 through our website which is our best month […]

  • News

    Update: 46 people rescued from sinking fishing boat in Aleutian Islands

    by Associated Press on Jul 26, 16:58

    The Latest on the rescue of 46 crew members who abandoned a fishing vessel in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands on Tuesday (all times local): 9 p.m. Officials say two Good Samaritan vessels have rescued 46 people who abandoned a fishing boat in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Steenson says there were no reports […]

  • Crime

    Chickaloon man charged with assaulting rafters along river

    by Associated Press on Jul 26, 14:29

    A man suspected of using a knife to confront a rafting party along the Chickaloon River has been charged with four counts of felony assault. Alaska State Troopers say 56-year-old Bruce Harrison of Chickaloon, claiming the group was trespassing, on Monday untied a raft carrying five juveniles and kicked it into fast water toward rapids. […]

  • DayBreak

    Alaska’s sports legends help the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame celebrate its 10th year

    by Daybreak Staff on Jul 26, 13:34

    The Alaska Sports Hall of Fame is celebrating its 10-year-anniversary and a collection of the state’s greatest all-stars will be in attendance. From Super Bowl and Stanley Cup winners, to Olympic medalists, the public is invited for a chance to meet all of them Thursday and Friday. Tuesday, Alaska Sports Hall of Fame executive director […]

  • Crime

    Police: Teen seriously injured in early morning shooting

    by KTVA CBS 11 News on Jul 26, 13:09

    A 17-year-old male was taken to an Anchorage hospital with serious injuries after he was shot in the chest in the Fairview neighborhood early Monday morning, according to Anchorage Police Department spokesperson Anita Shell. Shell provided few details, but said at 4:48 a.m. the teen walked into a Holiday Gas Station, at the 4600 block […]

  • News

    Deficit-saddled Alaska gets another hit to its credit rating

    by Associated Press on Jul 26, 12:20

    Alaska’s credit rating has taken another hit in the face of a multibillion-dollar budget deficit that state officials have yet to close. The downgrade by Moody’s Investors Service marked the second time this year that the agency has lowered the state’s credit rating. Two other ratings agencies, Fitch Ratings and Standard & Poor’s Ratings Services, […]