WAUKESHA -- President Donald Trump's push for tougher punishments for drug dealers has put this epidemic back in the spotlight.
State Patrol does not need any reminder of our dangerous drugged driving issues, not to be confused with drunk driving.
Troopers tell us the number of drugged driving arrests have spiked state-wide and K9 Units are helping them crackdown.
The Wisconsin State Patrol says the number of drugged driving arrests have spiked state-wide and K9 Units are helping them crackdown.
The Wisconsin State Patrol has seen an increase in drug-related arrests when comparing statistics from 2017 to 2016. In 2016, the State Patrol made 2,862 drug arrests. In 2017, that number increased to 3,439 drug arrests - a 17 percent increase.
Trooper Darrick Lorbecki tells us he has experienced an increase in calls for his K9 "Lord" in the past six months.
He tells us how helpful he is to combat the opioid epidemic.
"Had he not smelled it or been there it would have carried on down the road numerous times," Trooper Lorbecki explained, "There's times I get there and tell them that I'm going to run him or use him and they hand it to me, because his presence is enough alone for them to hand it over."
A captain with Wisconsin State Patrol added this statement on the epidemic:
Arrests for Driving While Under the Influence of a Controlled Substance (Drugged Driving) also increased. There are circumstances that may be contributing factors to the increase in drug arrests. These include but are not limited to:
· The State Patrol provided advanced Highway Criminal Interdiction training to over 100 State Patrol officers in 2017. This training helped provide the tools and skills officers need to be more effective in highway criminal interdiction and drugged driving detection.
· The WI State Patrol Regions are focusing efforts on highway criminal interdiction and establishing regular enforcement details to target drug driving and violators.
· The State Patrol K-9 unit continues to actively and effectively seek out drug violations.
· States surrounding Wisconsin such as Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan have recently passed legislation that either decriminalizes marijuana possession and/or allow its use (medical reasons) which make the drug easier to obtain. The citizens and visitors from these surrounding states travel through and transport into Wisconsin which has not passed similar legislation.