The DUI Victim Center of Kansas understands that the holiday season can be hard for families of people injured or killed by drunk drivers. So, to bring a little light during one of the hardest times of the year for the grieving, the DUI victim center and local law enforcement are offering victims and volunteers a special way to remember their loved ones during this holiday season.
Volunteers began writing the names of victims from throughout the state of Kansas onto thousands of red ribbons Monday. Tuesday night, staff from the Ford County Attorney's office spent the evening tying the ribbons to the antennas of the Dodge City Police Department's (DCPD) patrol vehicles. Law enforcement will leave the red ribbons on their car antennas throughout the holiday season. Ribbons were also given to the Ford County Sheriff's Office and the Kansas Highway Patrol.
Tiffanie Askew, victim and witness services coordinator for Ford County, said the county has been participating in the drive for the past four years. Each patrol vehicle will be adorned with a ribbon until the start of the new year, she said.
Officer Lee Kolbeck has been with the DCPD since the department began participating.
"The ribbons are important because they show our support to the victims and family members of drunk drivers especially around the holiday season," Kolbeck said.
According to a report by the DCPD, officers responded to a total of 961 vehicle accidents in 2011. Of those, 28 (2 percent) were alcohol related, a decrease from 2010 when there were 55 alcohol related accidents (5 percent) out of a total 982.
“Each year between Thanksgiving and New Year's Day we see an increase in drunk driving,” said Jan Davis, DUI Victim Center of Kansas interim chief executive officer, in a press release. “As in past years, law enforcement officers will be aggressively looking for impaired drivers. We also want to raise public awareness of the problem of drunk driving and encourage citizens to report those who have had too much to drink then get behind the wheel.”
The Holiday Drive for Victims is currently offered in Wichita, Park City, Valley Center, Maize, Haysville, Derby, Andover, Wellington, Dodge City, Salina and El Dorado.
“Each ribbon signifies the person driving that vehicle will be driving for victims of a senseless crime that often takes the life of an innocent person,” said Davis. “Every time you see a red ribbon on a car you should be reminded to be on the lookout for drunk drivers.”