DCSIMG
Banner of Programs Across the United States That Aid Motorists in the Reporting of Impaired Drivers to Law Enforcement
     
 

Idaho

  • Type of program: DWI dedicated.
  • Program name: REDDI (Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately).
  • Program housed: Idaho’s three regional communications centers – Coeur d’Alene, Meridian, Pocatello.
  • Program began: The program was started in 1982 as a statewide toll-free hotline to which citizens could report suspected drunk drivers. It adopted the acronym REDDI for “Report Every Drunk Driver Immediately.”  It was seen as a means by which citizens could act as additional “eyes and ears,” helping law enforcement be on the lookout for suspected drunk drivers.
  • Reason for initiation: When the program began, cellular telephones were nonexistent and an 800 number (800-233-1212) was used. Citizens were encouraged to call the number when they spotted a drunk driver. Later, as cellular phones became more common, the Idaho State Police approached cellular phone companies and asked if a simpler number could be adopted and used statewide. The number,*ISP (“Star-ISP” for Idaho State Police), is now used. The line has since been expanded to take calls for other highway emergencies.
  • How does the program operate: A citizen who spots a suspected drunk driver or other highway emergency calls either the cellular number (more than 90% of the calls come in this way) or the toll-free 800 number. Depending on the location of the call, the call is routed to the nearest ISP Regional Dispatch Center. The dispatcher takes the necessary information and then forwards it to the nearest patrol units. This may not always be Idaho State Police units, but could be a city or county officer if they are closer. Should the officer spot the suspected vehicle, additional observation is made to determine if a stop should take place. As all Idaho State Police vehicles are video-equipped, videotaping and audio-recording of the stop also take place. This is also valuable additional evidence.
  • Phone number used: *ISP or *477 on cellular phones and 800-233-1212 on any phone.
  • How is program announced or promoted: The program is continually promoted through the use of permanently installed highway signs, inclusion of the number on official Idaho maps and in emergency listings in phone books, as standard information on the bottom of all news releases, periodically in radio and TV spots, and on promotional items (key tags, pencils, and other give-away items used at fairs and other public events). No special budget is set up specifically for REDDI promotion, however.
  • Is funding required: Cooperation with Idaho cellular and other telephone companies has worked well and the *ISP and 800-233-1212 are made available at no cost to the department. No additional dispatch funding is provided as these calls simply blend in with other public calls for service.
  • Has any evaluation been conducted: In the early days of the program, detailed reports were prepared and the outcomes of calls were tracked. Over the years, REDDI has simply been integrated into the regular flow of ISP dispatch activity. As all calls come in via the same emergency lines, a dispatcher cannot initially tell if the call came from the 800 number, the *ISP cellular line, or any other regular ISP line.
  • Some problems with program: Incomplete information from callers; too few patrol officers to attend to the calls; length of time necessary to locate the suspected vehicle; officers do not have probable cause to stop the vehicle; joke calls or other non-emergency calls. All the issues mentioned here exist, but they have not become barriers to successful operation of the program.
  • Additional information: The advent of cellular telephones has been the greatest boon to the REDDI program (and to all public highway safety reporting programs). When the program first began in the early 1980s, it had only marginal success as it would require the motorist to stop, find a phone, and report information from memory. With the lapse of time from the initial sighting to the time a call might be made, officers infrequently found the suspected vehicle. With the proliferation of cell phones has come ease of immediate reporting. Often times the reporting party may still be in sight of the suspected vehicle and may be able to help direct the responding officer to the right location. It was estimated that the program now receives over 90 percent of REDDI calls via cellular connection; officials are now considering discontinuing the 800 number which is rarely used.

The Idaho Transportation Department now posts permanent signs along highways across the State reminding motorists of the *ISP number and this has been a boon to the program. Even tourists simply passing through the State are immediately made aware of the program. The program receives other highway emergency information over the same number (i.e., crash reports, road hazard information), serving an additional function. The program is now a regular means of doing business with the public.

  • Contact information:

                        Rick Ohnsman, Public Information Officer
                        Idaho State Police
                        208-884-7231
                        Rick.Ohnsman@isp.idaho.gov

                        Capt. Steve Richardson, Region 3 Commander
                        Idaho State Police
                        208-334-3731
                        Steve.Richardson@isp.idaho.gov

 

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