The Falls Church Police Department launched a crackdown last Friday to cut down on the number of drunk drivers who cruise through the two-square-mile city.
According to Deputy Police Chief Timothy Toureau, Falls Church police have made 379 drunk-driving arrests in each of the last two fiscal years and already have made 276 arrests since July 1984 for the fiscal year 1985.
"Drunk driving is a problem everywhere," said Falls Church public information officer Barbara Gordon. "It's something we certainly want to curtail. Falls Church is criss-crossed by several major roads."
Falls Church Police Chief Stanley K. Johnson said he will put an extra officer on overtime duty from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m. Sunday through Thursday and two extra officers on duty Friday and Saturday during that same time. These officers will be looking strictly for drunk drivers, he said.
Johnson said that police will not be monitoring any area in Falls Church in particular but "will patrol the whole city." He said, however, that drunk drivers are often found on the major thoroughfares, such as Washington Street (Rte. 29) and Rte. 7.
To help fund the program, the city has received approval of a $27,500 grant from the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles that will go to pay for alcohol-sensing equipment and officers working overtime on a volunteer basis to patrol the city's streets at night.
The city will match the grant with close to $30,500 in local funds to pay additional costs. These funds will be used, among other things, to furnish the police cars for overtime duty, pay for car operating expenses and pay the salaries of officers who testify against drunk drivers in court.
Johnson said he believes that the number of arrests could increase substantially now that the program is under way. Driving while intoxicated is classified as a misdemeanor, a crime that carries a maximum punishment of one year in jail and a $1,000 fine.
"I feel the best thing is to get the drunk driver off the street before he hurts someone," he said. "I don't believe in tolerating drunk driving."
In other actions, the City Council:
* Adopted ordinances to dissolve the city's Disability Retirement Board May 1 and create a Retirement Board with broader powers. The present board can only approve or disapprove disability claims. The new board would retain those powers and administer pension plans of city employes.
* Adopted an ordinance creating several city posts. In the Housing and Human Services Department, the council added the job of assistant to the director and a human services specialist position. A full-time fire marshal -- the job had been part time -- was also added.
* Voted to write a letter to the chairman of the House Select Committee on Aging in the House of Representatives urging the committee to initiate legislation that would provide for mandatory Medicare coverage of long-term illnesses. That action was in response to a petition filed before the board by the Falls Church Senior Citizen Commission.