Police partner with community to battle alcohol abuse

The Northern Arizona University Police Department is joining forces with other law enforcement agencies and Flagstaff downtown bar owners to step up their fight against underage drinking and DUIs.

The NAUPD is sponsoring a three-day workshop Jan. 7-9 to certify officers in standardized field sobriety testing. The third day of the training features community involvement with volunteers drinking alcohol and being tested by officers.

The training also will help bartenders and servers recognize drunken customers and phony IDs.

“Our main goals are to help reduce excessive drinking, underage drinking and DUIs,” said NAUPD Sgt.¬†Paul Sorenson. “This training helps officers and others recognize certain physiological signs that indicate intoxication.”

Sorenson said participants include officers from the NAU, Flagstaff, Williams, Page and Sedona police departments, Coconino County Sheriff’s Office, the Arizona Department of Public Safety, the Coconino County Attorney’s Office, and the Sedona City Attorney’s Office.

As part of the training, about 20 volunteers will be drinking subjects, including representatives from the county attorney’s office, detention officers, sheriff’s department employees and workers from the Downtown Bar Association.

All have designated drivers from their homes and back again. They are monitored at all times during the testing, Sorensen explained.

“Participation by members of the Downtown Bar Association is a good example of the partnership between law enforcement and the association to increase awareness of alcohol abuse in the community,” said NAUPD Chief¬†G.T. Fowler.

Fowler explained that officers will be trained to use a standardized field sobriety test known as HGN, which stands for Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus. HGN is an additional tool used in conjunction with other standardized field sobriety tests to detect impaired drivers.