Police Underestimated How Many People Will Volunteer to Get Drunk for Free
“WE HAVE HAD AN OVERWHELMING RESPONSE FOR THIS AND AT THIS POINT WE HAVE ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS FOR THIS TRAINING”
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This article originally appeared on VICE US
When you’re shitfaced—and you know you’re shitfaced—the last thing you want to see is a cop standing in front of you, telling you to follow his flashlight with your eyes, JUST YOUR EYES, DON’T TURN YOUR HEAD. But one Pennsylvania police department has learned that people will actually get stupid-excited about a field sobriety test, especially if it’s scheduled in advance.
In a Wednesday afternoon Facebook post, the Kutztown Borough Police Department in Kutztown, Pennsylvania said that it was looking for three volunteers who would be willing to drink hard liquor on the city’s tab, in exchange for letting officers put them through a standardized field sobriety test afterward.
According to the cops, willing participants just have to be between the ages of 25 and 40, have no previous history of alcohol or drug abuse, have a clean criminal record, and have a way to get home after the training session. Oh, they also have to be OK with drinking to excess on a Thursday afternoon. (Weirdly enough, that list of qualifications doesn’t seem to be multiple choice).
By the next morning, the Facebook post had been shared more than 1,000 times, had collected 700-plus comments, and Kutztown Borough Police Chief Craig Summers may have started to regret putting his phone extension on the internet. (If the Facebook comments are any indication, he may or may not also wish that he could drink every time someone asked if there would be an area for spectators).
On Thursday, the KBPD edited its post. “WE HAVE HAD AN OVERWHELMING RESPONSE FOR THIS AND AT THIS POINT WE HAVE ENOUGH VOLUNTEERS FOR THIS TRAINING,” the KBPD added in all caps. “THOSE WHO ARE SELECTED WILL BE CONTACTED BY CHIEF SUMMERS!”
As new and exciting as this sounds, it seems to be a pretty standard practice when officers are being trained to assess drivers’ sobriety. “We wanted to give these guys a real experience, as far as with a field sobriety test with an intoxicated person,” a spokesperson for North Augusta (South Carolina) Public Safety said, when local officers tested their skills on boozed-up volunteers. “The design of this class is to help these trainees spot impairments on real-life people who are under the influence, but right at the legal limit, which is .08. These volunteers are at the level where we typically see drivers who say they're good to drive when they really are not."
When several other Pennsylvania police departments let civilian volunteers drink in front of them, it was part of a multi-day training session that also involved classroom work. “I think this just adds an additional level of realism and just a practical experience for [the officers] to be able to physically test somebody who we know in advance what their alcohol level is,” Bucks County Director of Law Enforcement Training Richard Vona said at the time.
So what we’re saying is look at your local police department’s calendar, and maybe you can get a couple free shots and learn whether you can stand on one foot or not. But call your own cops—Chief Summers has already said he has enough volunteers.