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Whiteside leads other departments in DUI arrests

For years, county has more arrests per officer

Whiteside County Sheriff's Deputy Kris Schmidt had a career high of 64 DUI arrests in 2006. No one else in the Sauk Valley came close.

His arrests made up nearly half of the department's total that year. He had the fifth highest number of arrests among sheriff's deputies statewide, according to numbers from the Schaumburg-based Alliance Against Intoxicated Motorists, a nonprofit group.

Ever since, Schmidt has led in DUI arrests among area officers.

How does he do it?

"He's one of those guys who has a nose for it," Sheriff Kelly Wilhelmi said. "He's very vigilant and hard-working. We have a great crew."

Through the sheriff, Schmidt, now a sergeant, declined a request for an interview.

"He said it's about the department, not any one individual," Wilhelmi said.

Since 2001, Whiteside County has led departments in Whiteside and Lee counties for DUI arrests per officer.

During that time, it usually has logged four or five DUI arrests per officer. In 2012, for instance, Whiteside County recorded four such arrests per officer, while Lee County had 2.4.

Both departments have seen a decline in officers from 2001 to 2012 – from 23 to 20 in Whiteside County and from 22 to 18 in Lee County.

In 2001, Whiteside County recorded 92 DUI arrests. The number increased for a few years when the force grew, but as the department lost officer positions, its total DUI number dropped to 79 in 2012. Lee County's arrests have been relatively stable during that time, with 43 in 2012.

Over the years, the Dixon police usually have made more DUI arrests per officer than the departments in Sterling and Rock Falls. In 2012, Dixon recorded 2.4 such arrests per officer, compared with 1.8 in Sterling and 1.3 in Rock Falls.

Years ago, Rock Falls had more DUI arrests, largely thanks to Officer Jim Hollaway, who had 32 such arrests to his credit in 2005. In 2001, Rock Falls made 92 DUI arrests, a number that dropped to 24 in 2012.

Rock Falls Chief Michael Kuelper said his department has three National Guard members who have been on deployments.

"That's what really hurt us," the chief said. "The deployments meant a shortage of officers."

Sterling dropped from 31 officers in 2001 to 28 in 2012. In that time, its total annual number of DUI arrests declined from 70 to 50. Dixon increased its police force – from 25 to 32 – with arrest numbers usually ranging from 70 to 90.

Rita Kreslin, executive director of the Alliance Against Intoxicated Drivers, said police departments' priorities and budgets affect DUI numbers.

"Some people ask, 'Why aren't these cops fighting real crime?' This is real crime," she said. "If you have been affected by DUI, you know it is real crime."

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