Ridge Meadows RCMP Const. Gurpreet Arora will never forget a night from four years ago when he had to be the bearer of bad news.
“I had to knock on someone’s door in the middle of the night to let them know that their son died in a crash,” he said at a press conference at Ridge Meadows RCMP headquarters Wednesday.
As a police officer, he said he knew why an elderly couple’s only son would never come home: it was a motor vehicle accident involving alcohol.
Today, Arora is one of 71 police officers involved in Project Domino Effect, a Ridge Meadows RCMP initiative to target impaired drivers and remove them from local roads. He is responsible for detecting 54 out of a combined 553 impaired drivers apprehended by the team in 2019.
According to an RCMP press release, over an 11-month period between May 2017 and April 2018, the Ridge Meadows RCMP investigated seven fatal motor vehicle collisions where alcohol or drug impairment was a factor. Project Domino Effect was created by Supt. Jennifer Hyland as a tool to combat the rash of incidents.
“[It] was named because of the impact the decision to drive while impaired has on a community,” Hyland said.
“When someone loses a life, their family, their friends and the community as a whole suffers the impact.
“We also believe removing even a single person who is impaired from the road, also has a domino effect. We are saving the life of that driver, we are saving the lives of pedestrians who are walking on the roadways, and we are saving the lives of all the drivers and passengers that are driving at the same time as the driver.
“We create a domino effect of safety.”
While there were two alcohol-related casualties in the 11-month period after the project was initiated (May 2018 – March 2019), the RCMP said there has not been a fatal collision involving alcohol in the past 11 months (March 2019 – February 2020).
Media relations officer Const. Julia Klaussner said the project involves having dedicated staff focus on impaired driving during key hours.
“The purpose of the program is to have members come in with the sole purpose of being able to not worry about taking regular calls,” she said.
“The purpose is to be out on our streets with the strict idea that they’re going to be doing targeted enforcement, so they’re going to areas in the community where we know there’s going to be a higher risk that there will be someone driving while impaired and they’re going to be looking for those people and strictly there to do that job.”
Klaussner said they were surprised by the number of people they arrested when they started targeted impaired driving enforcement.
In 2017, prior to the launch of the project, local RCMP performed 279 impaired driving investigations. In 2018, they performed 486 investigations and in 2019, that number has climbed to 553.
The effect of the project is starting to show, said Arora.
“While I was getting in my police car, a man walking his dog came up to me and said, thank you officer.
“I asked him what he meant and he reminded me that about two weeks [previous] I had stopped him when he was going home; driving his vehicle while impaired.
“The man also stated that it was a wake-up call for him, and that now he was doing everything he can to change his life around.”