Thirty members of the RCMP recently completed a course which will help them nab drunk drivers.
RCMP members from the City’s detachment and members from surrounding areas took part in the Trained Breath Technician Course in Red Deer.
“These members will go through training over the course of the week and at the end of the training if they are successful they will be deemed a qualified breath technician,” said RCMP Const. Tom Harnum and senior breath technician who was helping facilitate the course. “They will get a designation under the Criminal Code of Canada saying that they are a breath technician. That allows them to take breath samples from impaired subjects under investigation for impaired driving.”
Participants in the five-day course learned the workings of the equipment needed to get breath samples from suspected drunk drivers.
“This course, while it’s not new to Red Deer, because of the new building we’re able to facilitate more members and do a better job,” said Harnum.
The constables trained are mostly members on general duty.
“They are the people on the road that do the investigations on a daily basis,” said Harnum. “They are working on the instruments we have at the office so that when somebody is arrested on the road and once they do their preliminary investigation we read the breath demand to them. This is the instrument we use to take subsequent samples and it gives us the actual blood alcohol rating.”
He added this course is very useful and important for the RCMP.
“Without trained breath technicians who can operate this equipment we can’t actually put a number to somebody’s blood alcohol level. We would have to charge them with straight impaired driving, which is a lesser charge. We want to go to the highest degree possible with impaired investigations as a better deterrent.”
The equipment used to obtain breath samples uses infrared technology.
“There’s an infrared light that shines through the chamber and as alcohol from someone’s breath passes through that chamber, the higher the amount of alcohol the less light can get through at the end of the test,” said Harnum. “It calculates the blood alcohol level based on a scientific formula.”
Meanwhile, Harnum said he believes the RCMP are getting better at catching impaired drivers in the Red Deer community.
“It’s hard to say if the problem is growing or not growing. All we can really report on is the people that we catch,” he said. “It seems to be of late in Red Deer that we have been getting better at catching people. It’s not that the problem is worse it’s that we’re doing a far better job of catching people now.”