When it comes to celebrating the holidays over the next week or so, Farmington police chief Brian Lindquist urges just one thing -- use some common sense, especially when it comes to drinking and driving.
With the American Legion's Krombombolie celebration this week, New Year's Eve next week and plenty of holiday parties likely to take place, this is also the time of year when drivers imbibe in alcoholic cheer a little more than usual.
"It just comes with the territory," he said. "Families get together, celebrating goes on and sometimes there is some over-indulgence. This can manifest into not using common sense and people make bad decisions. Bad judgement leads to bad situations."
Lindquist said he will have his officers treat these next few days like any other time of the year.
"We approach every night with the same intentions of keeping people safe," he says. "If there's an event, does it catch our attention? Sure it does. Do we make our presence known? Of course we do. We try to do that every night. no more or less than we do for any other night."
A few years back, the Farmington police department was identified as having one of the highest DUI arrests rates in the Twin Cities metro area. It is a reputation achieved largely by Lindquist, who held the record for the most DUI arrests on the department. Now that he is chief, his staff continues to uphold the department's reputation.
And after so many years, Lindquist likes to think residents in Farmington have taken note of the police presence. These days, officers are seeing more and more vehicles left overnight in the parking lots of local bars and clubs.
Bars are stepping forward, too. Over the past month, the "Cool Bus" has been running folks who have had just a little too much to drink home from the Farmington American Legion. Assistant manager Tony Jerin and his wife, Jocelyn, bought the bus in November, and now use it to transport patrons who are unable to drive home.
The Cool Bus typically runs Thursdays through Saturdays, and Jerin figures there are usually about 50 passengers, give or take according to the night. The bus is driven by volunteers. They accept donations, though no one is required to pay for the ride. It is a service designed to simply get people home safe.
Though getting directions out of passengers is a little difficult at times, "driving them home is actually a very good time," Jerin said. "The stories you hear are hilarious. Some of the things you see or hear, nothing really compares to it."
That is part of what Lindquist is concerned with during the holidays. Road conditions are already questionable during this time of the year, but when alcohol is added to the mix, abilities become impaired and reaction times slow. He applauds anyone who opts to be a "sober cab" driver, regardless of the time of the year.
"Anybody who has made the effort to provide transportation, I am extremely appreciative of them. If an establishment has decided to make rides available to those patrons, what a wonderful service. If it keeps them off the road, they have helped me achieve my goal." Lindquist said.
"Anybody who knows me knows my drive when it comes to keeping drunk drivers off the road. That was my niche when I was on the road. That's where my focus was and that's what I did."