DUI Squad dissolved in the Tri-Cities

TRI-CITIES, Wash. - The DUI Squad was rolled out to much fanfare last year,targeting those dangerous drivers on our state highways. But a year later it's gone, KEPR learned the DUI squad was dissolved in the Tri-Cities.

It's been 24 years, but Bill Kater still thinks about his son every day.

"They say some days are just great, others are mediocre, and sometimes they're absolutely horrible, but you learn to go on," said Bill Kater.

Bill's son was killed by a drunk driver on Christmas Eve and he attends the monthly Benton-Franklin Victims Panel to grieve.

"You get to vent your frustrations a little bit, and hopefully somebody learns something, the emphasis being learning something, like planning ahead," said Kater.

Planning ahead and being proactive was the goal of the DUI Squad set up by the Washington State Patrol and despite immediate success, the squad in the Tri-Cities was dissolved after eleven months.

"We're having some manpower issues," said WSP Trooper, Chris Thorson.

Troopers are having a difficult time just filling their ranks, let alone having enough people to assign to a separate squad.

"It's frustrating, it really is I can understand the man power issue, but it's difficult to comprehend," said Kater.

WSP Troopers say that even though it was short-lived, the DUI Squad was still considered a success, but the results weren't dramatic. In the first six months of last year 130 DUI arrests were made with no DUI squad. In the same amount of time with the DUI Squad on patrol, there were 145.

"It is a luxury in a way, if we were fully staffed across the state, then we would afford that luxury," said Trooper Thorson.

A luxury Bill wishes we still had, especially when he thinks about his 15 year old granddaughter getting behind the wheel.

"Taking driver's education right now, and at times it just scares me knowing that sooner or later she is going to be out there," said Kater.

And when she does, Bill hopes that others will learn from his experience and plan ahead.

Troopers tell KEPR that because the DUI Squad was dissolved now, doesn't mean it cannot return once they're back to full staff.