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Police prepare for holiday DUI enforcement, caution Black Friday shoppers

Local police departments are gearing up for the holiday weekend with increased patrols and getting ready for shoppers being out earlier than usual.

Sgt. Jeffrey Dobratz said Southington police will have at least two extra patrol cars assigned to traffic duty Wednesday night. Southington is also participating in the “Click it or Ticket” campaign during the holiday weekend, Dobratz said.

“There is a bigger bar crowd out,” Dobratz said about the evening before Thanksgiving.

Cheshire will also have roving patrols in marked and unmarked police cars, Lt. James Fasano said. The extra patrols will be mostly during the night hours when drunk drivers are most likely to be on the road, but they will also be looking for distracted driving of any kind, Fasano said.

“We want people to have a safe, healthy and happy holiday,” Fasano said, “not be victims of an accident due to someone’s carelessness. Holidays are a time of happiness and celebration and we don’t want to see anything other than that.”

Lt. Sal Nesci said Meriden police will have a DUI checkpoint, though the location hasn’t been decided yet, along with roving patrols. A grant from the state Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made the additional enforcement possible, Nesci said. Police will also have underage drinking patrols on top of the DUI patrols, Nesci said.

Lt. Anthony DeMaio said Wallingford will have roving patrols searching for impaired drivers and the department started the patrols last weekend. On Wednesday and Friday at least two officers will be working the extra patrols, DeMaio said.

“They roam the whole town,” DeMaio said.

Wallingford is also participating in “Click it or Ticket” campaign though Dec. 1, DeMaio said.

In addition to watching for drunk or distracted driving, more local police departments are having officers work on Thanksgiving due to retail stores opening Thursday night. The Walmart and Target stores in Southington have hired officers to work security, Dobratz said. Walmart will be staffed by police from 4 p.m. on Thursday through noon on Friday. Target will have officers from 6 p.m. on Thursday to 2 a.m. on Friday, Dobratz said.

Fasano said as the retail season gets into “full swing” he would remind residents to use common sense when shopping. Fasano recommended people park in well lit areas, travel with others and report any suspicious incidents to local police.

Nesci said in terms of holiday shoppers, he would advise residents to be mindful of leaving packages in plain view in their cars.

“Those who do that tend to be victims of theft,” Nesci said. “They come back to their windows smashed.”

Nesci said residents should put items including GPS units out of view in the trunk. Additonally, Nesci said shoppers should be mindful of protecting their identity and not showing personal information while standing in line.

“I have been in line and saw someone thumbing through their wallet in front of me with their social security card completely visible,” Nesci said. “People get excited for the holidays and deals, but they should never let that excitement cloud their judgement.”

DeMaio said police are taking the normal precautions with the retail stores opening earlier this year. Residents are reminded to lock cars, not to carry large amounts of cash, and be mindful of not leaving purses in shopping carts unattended, DeMaio said.

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