Friday, February 12, 2010

Mental health services for homeless "innundated," advocates say

By Steffi Broski

Carol Carlile’s days start early. She usually gets up by 6 a.m. She smokes a cigarette, gets dressed, tears down her tent, rolls up her sleeping bag. She gets on her bike and rides to a local charity called Loaves and Fishes. There, she gets hot tea and breakfast. Most days she spends at the park, reading. After lunch she takes a shower on the grounds of the charity. Around 3 p.m., she heads back to the campsite.

Carlile has lived on the streets for three years. She lost her job and couldn’t pay the rent.

“It can be really hard. A lot of people, when they first become homeless, aren’t streetwise,” she explained.

Homeless advocates estimate that there are about 1,200 homeless people in Sacramento who don’t have a bed at night. Carlile said the more accurate number for Sacramento’s homeless population is 4,000.

“It’s definitely higher than 1,200 people,” said Vince Gallo, a counselor at Genesis, a free mental health program of the local charity Loaves and Fishes. “I think we serve something like 500 to 800 lunches a day to homeless people here at Loaves and Fishes. And those are just the people that eat lunches.”

Carlile spent decades in abusive relationships, starting when she dropped out of school, got pregnant and married at 17. Carlile has never received counseling, but said a church in Humboldt County helped her deal with some of her demons.

A social services counselor diagnosed Carlile with depression, agoraphobia and post-traumatic distress disorder, stemming from years of physical and mental abuse.

“I haven’t allowed a man to beat me in 25 years,” she said.

Genesis provides mental health counseling services to about 200 people a month. Gallo said they see a consistent number of new “visitors” each week. Three full-time counselors and three volunteers handle hundreds of visits per month. PTSD and depression are common disorders among the homeless people who come to Genesis.

“Of course PTSD stems from severe trauma,” said Gallo. “We hear a lot about sexual abuse, lots of physical abuse. This absolutely goes for women, but also for men.”

If she wanted to get help for her disorders, Carlile said she could.

“It’s about getting people to go get help. But a lot of people have had bad experiences with counselors,” she explained. “Or they’re not getting the help they really need, and it is hard for people to get the right medication.”

But Gallo said mental health treatment programs for the homeless are inundated.

“It’s not that there’s a bunch of resources that aren’t being used,” he said.

While Genesis only offers counseling, people come every day to ask for medication. He can refer them to Sacramento County’s Guest House, which provides psychiatric medication evaluation and treatment and, among other things, referrals for housing and ongoing services. But the waiting lines are long, and people are advised to come almost two hours before the doors open. And it takes a month before they can see a psychiatrist.

“They are doing the best they can,” said Gallo.

Guest House only accepts people with certain diagnoses, including severe depressive disorder, Asperger’s syndrome, schizophrenia and a few others, but not PTSD. Recently, the Sacramento County Mental Health Treatment Center was forced to cut half of its 100 psychiatric beds and temporarily close its crisis unit. If Genesis now issues a “5150,” which refers to Section 5150 of the state’s Welfare and Institutions Code -and means a person is greatly disabled, or a danger to themselves or others- Gallo said “the police have to be creative.”

“They may take them to an emergency room or psychiatric hospital, but there’s less and less to choose from,” he added.

Patricia Pavone is the president of the board of directors for the National Alliance on Mental Illness in Sacramento.

“Emergency rooms aren’t necessarily set up for someone in a serious psychiatric state, and the police have to stay with the person. Sometimes the police have to drive around until they find an ER that takes them,” she said.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Old-fashioned merchants thrive in Woodland

By Luke Gianni
CNS Staff Writer

The economic downturn hasn’t bypassed Woodland.

This year, it lost two of its biggest retailers, Gottschalks and Mervyns. The city now faces a $6.3 million deficit, as officials struggle to make ends meet.

One hopeful sign is the emergence of newcomers Best Buy and Target, which recently opened up along East Main Street and will bring sorely needed revenues to the city coffers.

But as the city looks towards the future for its economic salvation, along the four-block strip of historic Woodland’s Main Street are a handful of old-time merchants, who are weathering the recent economic maelstrom by sticking to the past.

“There is a success story here on Main Street,” said Wendy Ross, the city’s economic development manager.

Ross notes that when Woodland hit the 50,000 population mark a few years back, the large retailers, like Costco, began to set up shop, spelling what many thought might be the end for the city’s remaining historic businesses.

However, she says, Yolo County consumers harbor a demand for merchandise designed for this predominantly agricultural area.

For storeowners like Ivan Schmauderer, owner of Main Street’s Emils Family Shoe Store, a three-generation-old establishment, the recession has slowed business, but it’s nothing they haven’t seen before in their 50-plus years.

“People are coming in all day long,” Schmauderer said.

His secret is simple – quality and customer service.

“People can go out and spend $50 on boots and have them fall apart in a year,” Schmauderer said. “You can come in here and spend your money wisely.”

In these historic stores, many of which have been around since the turn of the 20th century, the customer isn’t a faceless sales opportunity. For Schmauderer, the customer is usually a neighbor, childhood friend or someone else he knows.

Schmauderer’s father, Ed, who works in the store with his son, said they are not too worried about the newly erected big box competitors.

That’s because, Ed says, his store fills the unique demands of the town’s clientele, especially come duck hunting season.

Their words are barely audible over the labored hisses of a 60-year-old General Electric shoe finisher machine, which an employee works from behind the counter.
Emils, like a lot of the older businesses along Main Street, have a repair component to their operation. That’s because while most goods sold at the big box retailers are designed to be thrown away after relatively short life spans, their merchandise, Ivan Schmauderer said, are designed to last for years with occasional maintenance.

David Schmauderer, brother of Ivan who owns the Western Store on Main Street, which carries items like cowboy hats and horse hoof conditioner, said his store has survived by carrying merchandise specifically catered to the area’s demand for ag-related accessories.

It’s a time tested market philosophy, David said, that’s carried over through generations. He adds that many of his patrons are young people, looking for the same ag-related merchandise as their parents did when they were working the family farm.

“It’s good to see these kids come in, wanting to keep up their heritage,” Schmauderer said.

He said another reason why his business and others like it have found success on Main Street is because they stay clear from the popular philosophies of Wall Street.

“We don’t run quite like AIG,” Schmauderer said. “We don’t hand out any big bonuses when we do good. We’re steady as she goes.”

He said there are two employees at the store, including him. He washes the sidewalks, straightens the shelves and said he’s content with his no-growth retailer and the modest living it provides.

Another Main Street business that has held steady through this recession is the Wirth Furniture store, which has been selling furnishings for four generations in Woodland.

“Our stuff is all solid wood,” said Zack Wirth, who operates the store. “No fake stuff here.”

Wirth’s great grandfather opened the store in 1911. They turned it over to their son David in 1979. It is now managed by his son, Zach.

Wirth said, like Emil’s shoes, they are not threatened by stores like IKEA, which recently opened in West Sacramento, because they aren’t competing for the same clientele.

Yolo County includes many families that have been farming in the area for more than a century. And while the edgy modern aesthetic of IKEA’s merchandise may be suited for some new housing developments in the area, Wirth says it does little to compliment the late 19th century design of many homes in the county.

Wirth says that in addition to his Woodland faithful, he has customers from all over the United States, who appreciate not only the quality of his merchandise but the old-fashion service he provides.

In the floor above the selling rooms is a repair area, Rueben Guerrero has been restoring an antique chair for a local customer for three days.

Guerrero is a master craftsman, repairing and restoring antique furniture for the past 20 years.

“You really got to focus,” Guerrero says. “These were all made by hand, and must be repaired by hand.”

He delicately sews new padding into the backrest of the chair, carefully balancing the seams to preserve the historic design of the piece.

A radio blaring news of the day is the only sign that this scene is happening in 2009 as opposed to 1909.

Another Woodland original that isn’t going anywhere is the Corner Drug Company, which has been on Main Street for more than 100 years.

“We know most of the patients by name,” said Ed Shelley, husband to the store’s owner Lisa Shelley, whose father owned the store before turning it over to her. “People come in to get their prescriptions and it’s nice to have a face behind the counter that knows you.”

Their daughter Sara Shelley, 23, recently graduated with a pharmaceutical degree from the University of Pacific and plans to take over the store.

Shelley said many of the owners of the historic businesses along Main Street have family ties to the area that go back generations, which is the same as their clientele.

“I grew up in the same house as my parents did – second generation,” Shelley said. And while pharmacy establishments are often used by recent graduates as a starting point in their careers, Shelley said that some of his employees have been greeting customers for more than 30 years.

“The clerks up front know many of them by name,” Shelley said. “We’re as competitive as anyone else.”

City officials know that while these businesses may not provide the largest tax yields they do provide the downtown its unique character, which they hope will draw shoppers to the area.

“I’m certainly an advocate for downtown,” said the city’s assistant planner Jimmy Stillman. “The people who live in this community are 99 percent ag. These businesses reflect that lifestyle.”

That is why, Stillman said, the city has actively sought to preserve the historic look and feel of the Main Street, which may be the hook for new investment.

An example, Stillman says, is the revival of the old Capitol Hotel Saloon on Main Street, which once served spirits to the local population starting back in the late 1800’s before it shut down. Investors are currently working to reopen a saloon in honor of its namesake, resurrecting its historic design with lofts occupying the upper floors.

In addition, Stillman said, any business that opens in the historic district must adhere to aesthetics reminiscent of its turn-of-the-century past, which was somewhat diluted during the boom of the uninspired cost-cutting commercial designs that spread through the city during the 1970s and early 1980s.

“Our downtown is nationally registered,” Stillman says. “We can lose that designation if it becomes too diluted.”

There is no question that the souring economy and the cheap merchandise of the larger commercial stores pose a challenge to the smaller, independents, Stillman said.

However, he believes that as long as the Yolo County remains an agricultural area, so too will the demand for unique merchandise be found in these historic stores.

“It’s a different kind of service,” Stillman says. “A lot of it comes back to quality of life. People know the history of Woodland and these businesses are part of it.”

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Folsom officer targets drunk drivers

By Steffi Broski
CNS Staff Writer

Folsom Police Officer Paul Rice has amassed such a record for arresting drivers under the influence that some wonder if he patrols the streets 24 hours a day.

Rice has been awarded by Mothers Against Drunk Driving for his 52 DUI arrests in 2007 and 92 in 2008. Last year, he arrested more than 20 percent of all DUIs in Folsom. So far, his record for this year includes more than 40 DUI arrests.

“That guy is a machine,” said Rice’s colleague and traffic officer Robert Challoner.

Rice grew up in El Dorado County, where he still lives, and he started working for the Folsom Police Department in 2007. Today, he works graveyard from 9:30 p.m. to 7:30 a.m. He spends most of his 10-hour shifts cruising near Folsom’s bars and restaurants.

“We have that big cluster of bars down the street,” he said, pointing to Sutter Street. “Only one in six people going to the bars actually are from Folsom. Most are from Sacramento or Rancho Cordova.”

Since Folsom does not have an “enormous drug problem or gang problem,” much of his job consists of DUI arrests. And he has seen it all, from the people so drunk that they fall out of their cars when pulled over to the ones who pass out in their vehicles.

“That’s one of the things I don’t get,” he said. “If you pass out behind the wheel with 1.25, you are ridiculously intoxicated. You would have to spend 8 to 9 hours in the car until you are even close to the legal limit. But are you really going to wait until 9 in the morning?”

Rice has perfected the art of distanced, no-games-please policing. When he talks to a drunk driver, he is respectful and calm. Challoner admires his colleague’s style.

“You have to detach yourself,” said Challoner. “My personal way of coping is that I think of me as a zookeeper taking care of animals. I don’t mean that in a degrading way, but I look at it scientifically. The way they behave is because of certain reasons.”

When the officers pull over intoxicated drivers, the excuses are plenty. I was only going a couple of blocks. I only had a couple of drinks. My driving wasn’t bad.

“You’d be surprised how many people ask me to just follow them home,” said Rice.

Don Koupal, Rice’s father-in-law and fellow traffic officer, said though every situation is different, the typical response from an intoxicated driver is that he or she only had two beers; unfortunately “it’s usually more than that,” he said.

Officers are only allowed to pull over a vehicle if the driver breaks the law. Officers are not allowed to stop drivers just because they left a bar, but they can pull over those who do not use the turn signal, have a broken headlight or show signs of erratic driving.

“The first thing to go with alcohol is judgment. It’s not that they weren’t sober enough to drive a car in a straight line, but when they wanted to make a turn, they thought it was earlier or later. Or it’s a yellow (light), and they think they can still make it,” Rice said.

That light often changes to red quicker than anticipated, Rice said. Sometimes, drivers see his police car behind them and immediately pull into a parking lot. If they have nothing to hide, he wonders, why did they do that?

Challoner said though most vehicle stops are not dangerous, some people are grouchy or belligerent.

Rice said any car he pulls over could be dangerous “but you just do your job and be wary.”

In his off-duty hours, said Rice, he doesn’t think too much about the possibility of sharing the road with a driver under the influence.

But when Rice drives around on his own time, he looks at people in other cars. It’s kind of a habit, he said.

“It just comes with the job,” he said.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Women thrive at Folsom's Powerhouse Ministries

Steffi Broski
CNS Staff Writer

Homelessness is not always a big-city problem. Just ask Patty Record.

Record is the coordinator for Powerhouse Transition Center, a transitional living program for women in Folsom, a well-to-do suburban enclave of less than 70,000 people.

“Some women have been homeless and slept in a car, some have been in programs for years, some come to us from broken families or bad relationships,” Record said.

In 2004, Powerhouse Ministries opened the Powerhouse Transition Center on Wales Drive, offering a 9-month to 2-year transitional living program for women. Now, eight women live there, a few of them with their children, and plans are underway to expand the center.

While Folsom residents receive priority, the program accepts women from the entire Sacramento area. Residents follow a daily program of classes on finance, anger management and parenting skills. Many enroll in academic classes to earn a GED and find out what kind of work they want to do upon completing the program. Counseling is a fundamental part of their stay too. A case manager helps each person to set individual goals.

Record knows the need is much bigger. There are no overnight shelters in Folsom; homeless are forced to “disappear in the night,” she said. Record said in suburbia, the homeless are not as obvious as in downtown Sacramento.

“If you go to the park at certain times, you might see people playing cards- and all of them are probably homeless,” she said. “People have been in denial for a long time.”

Record said she knows of at least 30 homeless in Folsom, some of them children. The National Coalition for the Homeless estimated that in 2006, 30 percent of the homeless were families with children. Single women comprised 17 percent, and minors without families, 2 percent.

But exact numbers are difficult to determine, even in a community as small as Folsom.

“I know when the light rail was coming in a lot of people were against it because they were afraid that the marginalized were coming into our society,” said Stephenie Carr, the missional living director at Folsom’s Oak Hills Church. “But they are already here.”

This month, the transitional living center is planning to start an expansion. There are plans for an exercise room, a visitor’s area, a bigger classroom and a commercial kitchen. Record said she is accepting applications as there will be room for two or three more adults and a few children.

To be accepted into the center, women must be drug-free and are tested randomly during their stay. Though the program is faith-based, it is not mandatory for the women to be or become Christians. But, Record said, classes are designed with a spiritual perspective.

One of the current residents is Kathy, who declined to give her last name because she wants to shield her teenage daughter’s identity.

“I learned a lot about myself,” she said. “It was mainly the love and support that gave me an open mind to change.”

Kathy said she began using drugs at 13 and spent time in prison. Now, she is planning to become an EMT.

She said the biggest problem for women entering the center is low self-esteem. The center gives woman a safe and caring environment to build up their self image and turn their lives around, she said.

Powerhouse Ministries Pastor Nancy Atchley gives tours of the center on the first Thursday of every month.

“I feel sometimes like people think we have a bunch of addicts and alcoholics here. We started the tours so people see this is not a dump,” said Record. “It’s a bunch of neat ladies in here that picked themselves up and are doing something with their lives.”

Several area churches, volunteers and non-profit organizations assist Powerhouse Ministries. Oak Hills Church volunteers cook and serve dinners to women and children at the center for two to three months per year.

Like other non-profit organizations, the economic downturn has had an effect on Powerhouse Ministries, Carr said. Powerhouse receives about 100 calls per week asking for assistance with food, rent and gas.

“People used to turn to family members and close friends when they lost their home, but now you have whole extended families that have this problem,” said Carr. “It’s a really complicated issue.”

With a declining economy, the need for funding and volunteers for programs such as the Powerhouse Transition Center, or its other areas of service like the Drop-in-Center and Neighborhood Outreach, is bigger than ever. Unfortunately, resources dwindle as fewer people are able to donate money.

“No matter how hard we are hit by this economy, there are people that are hit harder,” she said. “Some people have to eat a dinner that costs less, but others don’t eat anything.”

Rancho to consider Folsom Blvd. zoning policy

By Megan Hansen
CNS Staff Writer

The Rancho Cordova Planning Commission this month will consider a plan designed to help Folsom Boulevard business and property owners cope with zoning changes and economic woes.

The plan comes as a response to some business and property owners who say they’ve experienced more vacancies along Folsom Boulevard as a result of the city’s new zoning codes.

The zoning changes limit the use of some properties on Folsom Boulevard to encourage more residential and retail spaces instead of large-scale commercial. Concerns about these changes were presented to the Rancho Cordova City Council on May 4.

The resulting “Folsom Boulevard Relief Plan” is a provisional amendment to the Folsom Boulevard Specific Plan, which was adopted in 2006.

The new plan would extend the amount of time property owners have to fill vacancies from six months to eighteen months. Current law states that if property owners cannot find a tenant within six months, they forfeit their past property use and must abide by the new zoning code.

Megan McMurtry, of Rancho Cordova’s Economic Development Department, said the City Council is open to changing the law.

“At first, we proposed extending the vacancy time from six to 12 months before the non-conforming use status would be lost on the property,” McMurtry said. “But the council recommended 18 months because of the state of the economy.”

Curt Haven, Rancho Cordova Economic Development Director, said the goal of the proposal is to prevent vacancies.

“If a whole building, not just one tenant, goes dark than the new 18 month extension will kick in,” Haven said. “However, it will not be retroactive. If a business has already been closed more than 18 months it won’t apply to them.”

The new plan would allow commercial uses in medium-density residential zones along Folsom Boulevard.

Non-conforming properties in the medium-density residential zones now have very limited commercial reuse. Under this provision, most retail, services and office uses would be permitted.

“Midtown Sacramento is a good example of mixed-use properties,” Haven said. “It allows for people to walk right out of their doors and into a restaurant.”

The amendment would help Folsom Boulevard property owners like Kim To. To has a non-conforming mixed use property with a retail tenant and no residential units. She’s been struggling to get a business permit for more than three months.

“I bought the property without knowing that the zoning had changed,” To said. “I’ve been waiting, waiting and waiting. In the meantime, my tenant has not paid rent because we can’t get the permit.”

Under the “Folsom Boulevard Relief Plan,” To would have 18 months instead of six to secure her tenant and business permit. She would be allowed to have retail, service or office uses on her property without worrying about residential units.

McMurtry said there are more steps to take before the plan can be implemented.

“After we take this to the Planning Commission, we’ll hopefully take it back to the City Council on June 1,” McMurtry said. “Any actual changes to amend the plan would happen in July.”

To said July is too far away.

“At first they told me it was going to be in June and now it’s July,” To said. “It’s been very difficult. I have to pay my mortgage and it’s been so difficult.”

The Planning Commission will consider the “Folsom Boulevard Relief Plan” at 6 p.m. May 14 in the City Hall Council Chambers, 2729 Prospect Park Drive.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Roseville historian collects a century of memories

Dan King
CNS Staff Writer

Every centennial celebration needs someone like Roseville historian Leonard “Duke” Davis.

Davis, who has collected local lore for much of his 82 years, wrote an update version of his history of Roseville, Milestones & Memories: The Story of Roseville, California 1850-2009, especially for this month’s 100th birthday bash.

“More has happened in the last ten years than the fifty years proceeding that,” Davis said. “So this was a good time to update it and rewrite some of the stuff and put in another chapter we call ‘the rest of the story.’”

Davis looks much younger than he is. He tends to talk and walk quickly, and stand tall and straight. He hasn’t lost the bearing of an English instructor, his profession for 44 years.

He lives in a little house near the footbridge that crosses Dry Creek. His residence is tidy, but contains his large collection of memorabilia from Placer County’s past. He built his collection by noting obituaries of old-time residents and asking their families if he could look through their photographs and papers.

Davis is one of those old-time residents. He was born and raised not far from where he now lives. He went to Roseville High School, graduating in 1944 just in time to be drafted in World War II and see action at the final battle of Okinawa.

“I started college on the GI Bill, and thank God for that,” Davis said. He went to Placer College when it was in Auburn and then to Sacramento State, majoring in education and history.

His master’s thesis was on the history of Auburn; that sparked his interest in his own city’s history.

Davis spent 44 years teaching at junior and senior highs and community colleges in and around Roseville.

“As a teacher, in the summer I would always travel all around the world. I always come back here,” he said.

Rather than retiring to the golf course, he kept writing local histories.

“Everyone calls me the town historian. I guess it’s because I am the only one. I just take it grudgingly,” he said.

Roseville has changed from a small town where everyone knows everyone else to a city of more than 110,000 people. But Davis is one of many longtime residents who have chosen to stay in Roseville, helping retain some of that village feel.

Originally published for Roseville’s 90th birthday celebration, Milestones & Memories, was out of print until the new version was released last Saturday as part of the city’s birthday celebration. The release was at the new Turn the Page Bookstore, which had a line out the door before the 2 p.m. release.

“The book signing was just phenomenal,” said Andrew Bos, manager of the Vernon Street bookstore.

He said Davis sold and signed 61 copies of his book during the one-hour event.

Most of the people in line at the book signing were older residents, bringing previous books and pamphlets written by Davis to be signed.

“I think the average age of the people in line for the signing was easily past 60,” Bos said.

Davis added new appendixes, including the history of city budgets and a list of Roseville parks and bike trails.

“It is going to be a great resource for us in the city government,” said Julia Burrows, deputy city manager. “If we need to know what our budget was in 1964, we have it all right there.”

Roseville Councilman Jim Gray said he thinks the final chapter added a tremendous amount to the book.

“We just can’t give enough accolades to Duke for his hard work on the book,” Gray said. “He has been so involved in the centennial and he is a great fixture of our town.”

Burrows said during the first weekend, about 100 books of the initial publishing of 1,000 books were sold. They were also given out to the dignitaries who spoke out at the birthday party.

“We are so lucky to have Duke as part of our city,” Burrows said. “As a native of Roseville, he has been busy collecting our history most of his life.”

The book is now available for $25 from the City Clerk’s Office at 311 Vernon St. Profits benefit the Roseville Arts Center.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Folsom steps up DUI enforcement

By Steffi Broski
CNS Staff Writer

The statistics are grim.

Two years ago, the Office of Traffic Safety ranked Folsom 28 out of 106 California towns with populations of 50,001 to 100,000 for the most alcohol-related collisions.

In 2007, 55 people died in alcohol-related collisions in Sacramento County and 887 people were injured.

In February, an intoxicated driver hit a Folsom police officer, and a few weeks ago, a suspected drunk driver in Southern California killed Los Angeles Angels’ pitcher Nick Adenhart and two others.

“As a society, we have become complacent about drinking and driving,” said Folsom Police Chief Sam Spiegel. “People don’t think of it as this is a person that may be killing one of their family members.”

With more than 80 more Folsom DUI arrests in 2008 than 2007, and already 82 arrests in January and February of this year, it remains unclear whether the arrest numbers indicate success in the fight against driving under the influence or just showcase the dimensions of the problem.

Spiegel said it is possible arrests are up because of increased DUI enforcement. Fifteen more officers have been hired since 2007. In October, Folsom assigned an officer to DUI enforcement. Traffic Officer Robert Challoner now cruises the streets looking for traffic offenders, and in particular, those who are impaired due to intoxication.

“Last summer we saw an increase in drunk driving. We had regular patrolmen that saw the problem, but knew they were missing out because they had to take care of other calls,” Challoner said.

Upon arresting the drivers, the excuse is almost always the same. “They downplay it,” Challoner said. He said one of the biggest problems is the notion that “everybody drives drunk once in a while.”

But penalties are harsh. Spiegel said a first-time offender will have to pay thousands of dollars, deal with lost days at work, attorney fees, rehabilitation and meetings.

Sacramento County Deputy District Attorney Kelly Clark said a third-time offender who causes an accident that injured someone will automatically be charged with a felony. Second and third time DUI offenses are common, she said.

While most DUIs in Folsom are related to drinking, drug and prescription medication use impair driving as well, Spiegel said.

People of all ages are being charged with DUIs. In Folsom, 200 people between 21 and 30 years old were the majority of DUI arrests in 2008, but there were almost a 100 offenders in their thirties and 73 offenders between ages 41 and 50.

“Last week I had a gentleman in court that was 81 years old,” Clark said. “DUI is one of those crimes that crosses all financial, ethnic and cultural boundaries and barriers.”

Clark, along with two district attorney criminal investigators and their supervisor Lieutenant Jason Gray, has formed the Recidivist Driving Under the Influence Program. The RED Team, which is financed with grant money from the state Office of Traffic Safety, is targeting repeat DUI offenders who have failed to appear in court. They will meet regularly with law enforcement.

“We just had our first meeting,” Clark said. “We talk about DUI prosecution and get all on the same page to see what really works.”

Clark said between arrest and court date, the offenders tend to “change their story.” At the meetings, officers receive helpful advice in how to gather enough evidence, such as feeling the hood of the car to see if it is warm from driving, measuring the distance between wheel and seat or asking the person if he or she was driving.

A few times a year, Folsom police set up checkpoints to catch intoxicated drivers. At a City Council meeting a few weeks ago, Spiegel asked the council for permission to apply for grant funding for, among other items, more frequent DUI checkpoints. The Folsom Police Department will be notified in five to six weeks if they received the grant.

City Councilman Ernie Sheldon said checkpoints are good, but DUIs are an “on-going, everyday affair.”

His interest in the topic is personal. Sheldon was hit by a drunk driver one late afternoon in 2005. He had a sore neck for a while, but said he was lucky – his injuries could’ve been much worse.

Although most alcohol-involved fatal collisions in California take place in the evening hours and shortly after midnight, the OTS numbers indicate that they continuously occur throughout the day.

Spiegel said the department works with several organizations in its fight against driving under the influence, such as Citizens Assisting Public Safety. A number of Folsom bars are giving out buttons to designated drivers, who will then be served only non-alcoholic drinks, oftentimes free of charge. If there is no designated driver, cabs are always waiting to take intoxicated passengers to wherever they’d like to go.

“I will never forget what the cab driver told us that one New Years Eve night,” Clark said.

She was in her twenties and out with girlfriends. At the end of the night, they ordered a cab. As they were sitting in it, the cab driver explained that it is cheaper to take a cab from Napa Valley to Los Angeles and back than to get a DUI.

“That always stuck with me,” she said.