HPD Streamlines DWI Cases

The Houston Police Department has new tools in its arsenal against drunk drivers. HPD will now use four processing centers to test and book DWI suspects and cut down on the time officers spend on such cases.

A more than $500,000 grant from the Harris County District Attorney's office is paying for the improvements to how Houston Police officers handle DWI cases.

Officer Paul Lassalle says part of the money was used to open four new DWI testing stations inside substations scattered across the region.

"As we had to do it before, if we arrested someone in Kingwood, or Cypresswood, or Willowbrook area, we had to drive all the way down to Central. If it's a female, we have to book those females at Southeast, so we would take them all the way down to Southeast before we would have them processed. Depending on the time of day, you're looking at an extensive amount of time."

So now instead of having to drive from one side of town to the other, officers can take suspects to the nearest processing center.
Lasalle says this puts officers back on patrol faster and there's less time for a suspect to sober up before being tested, which means HPD gets more accurate evidence.

The department also upgraded its video recording system for sobriety tests. Assistant Chief Dan Perales says they were still using VHS tapes, which had to be converted to DVDs and then physically carried to the DA's office as evidence. Now the recordings are all digital.

"They will be able to download that video here, it will go into an HPD server, and from that point every five minutes it will be pushed over to the DA's office, where the DA prosecutors will be able to sit at their desks, their laptops, and be able to pull up those videos."

The funding for the upgrades comes from the DA's forfeitures and seizures fund.

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Laurie Johnson

Local Host, All Things Considered

Laurie Johnson is the Houston host for All Things Considered at KUHF NPR for Houston. Before taking the anchor chair, she worked as a general assignments reporter at KUHF, starting there as an intern in 2002...