Traverse City Record-Eagle

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March 19, 2014

St. Patrick's night patrol offers glimpse inside boozy holiday

TRAVERSE CITY — Exhaust and the smell of alcohol wafted from a parked minivan as Traverse City Police Sgt. Kevin Dunklow stood outside the driver’s window.

A woman, 39, of Traverse City, stirred inside and looked up with glassy eyes. Dunklow was two hours into his St. Patrick’s Day night shift patrol, about as long as dispatchers told him the woman spent asleep in a running minivan parked on Bay Street.

He asked her a series of questions: what she did that night, whether she’s been drinking or driving — before he reached one that wasn’t so obvious:

“Why are your pants down around your knees?”

She had to use the bathroom, the woman replied. Dunklow looked down and realized he wasn’t standing in a puddle of snow melt.

Green-draped and shamrock-festooned downtown revelers spent St. Patrick’s Day and its weekend lead-in in a usual state: tipsy, buzzed, sozzled, besotted and just plain drunk. But Dunklow, a 10-year police department veteran, and his fellow law enforcement officers considered this latest version of “Amateur Night” relatively uneventful.

Grand Traverse County sheriff’s Lt. Bryan Marrow said deputies made just two drunken driving arrests over the weekend. City Police Capt. Mike Ayling said his officers likewise snared a handful of drunken drivers, and only one — Dunklow’s sleepy woman — on Monday.

“We had three over the whole weekend, which is slower than the average weekend,” he said.

That doesn’t mean local authorities weren’t busy. City police had two extra patrol cars Monday night and responded to calls about scuffles in downtown bars, Euchre games turned violent and people were arrested on warrants.

Dunklow honed his Monday patrol close to downtown and said a police car’s “visibility” could stem trouble. He’d just circled Front Street about 8:30 p.m. when he picked up the dispatch call from Bay Street.

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