Monitor' gave skewed view of DUI van

Monitor' gave skewed view of DUI van

Posted in the Lincoln Forum

“real news for real people”

Since: Feb 08


#1 Dec 17, 2008
The Concord Monitor's recent article regarding the Liquor Commission's purchase of a DUI mobile command center contained errors that distorted the news and inappropriately served as the basis for the Dec. 9 editorial, "Spending on sizzle instead of on steak."

The paper's comment that the command center television would "allow agents to watch the news while waiting to process drunken drivers," is inaccurate. The television screen and satellite capabilities will be used only in cases of actual emergencies when law enforcement personnel must be aware of rapidly changing events, such as severe weather or critical regional or national news. This same type of equipment (and satellite TV programming) is routinely used by other states and widely used within many federal agencies. New Hampshire's recent flood and tornado tragedies are good examples of how this vehicle could be thoughtfully and economically repurposed and deployed for emergency service needs.

The Monitor also misled its readers by suggesting this vehicle was in "storage" and as such is somehow unavailable for everyday use, thereby further squandering taxpayer funds. A fact check by your paper would have revealed that "storage" was meant to convey that the vehicle is simply stored in a garage when not in use.

Your readers would benefit to know that in 2006, 13,470 people died in alcohol-impaired driving crashes (accounting for nearly one-third of all traffic-related deaths in the United States) and resulted in over $50 billion annually in economic costs.

Last year New Hampshire had 41 alcohol-related highway deaths and another 60 alcohol- and drug-related crash fatalities. The direct economic costs to our state and communities of these deaths alone (putting aside the incalculable human tragedy) pales in comparison to the one-time cost of this new DUI mobile command center. It is exactly for this reason that federal grants are used to assist states in purchasing these vehicles. Simply stated, these vehicles help save lives and save money.

Reducing alcohol- and drug-related highway deaths, injuries and related costs is a mission that is undiminished by our national economic downturn. This new vehicle, while under the custodial care of the Liquor Commission, will be used by local law enforcement agencies throughout the state, most of which have limited financial resources, staff and technical capabilities.

To be sure, some mistakes were made in the procurement process of this vehicle, but it is far from the "phenomenally expensive boondoggle," you labeled it in your editorial and characterized through your reporting.

(Mark M. Bodi is chairman of the New Hampshire Liquor Commission.)

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