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Dave Roepke, Published November 23 2010

North Dakota, Minnesota troopers plan holiday weekend push

Troopers in North Dakota and Minnesota are planning extra traffic enforcement surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, but winter weather could change their focus.

State troopers often work extra shifts around major holidays, usually focusing on drunken driving.

In the Fargo-based southeast region of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, additional troopers will be on patrol Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, said Lt. Bryan Niewind. The day before Thanksgiving, in particular, is a top target.

“Wednesday is normally our highest travel day of the year,” he said.

Jesse Grabow, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper in Detroit Lakes, said several extra troopers will be patrolling from 8 p.m. to 4 a.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

Grabow said the increased nighttime enforcement is geared toward identifying impaired drivers.

“The intent is to send a strong, visible message,” he said.

Though holiday enforcement efforts in North Dakota were designed by the regional commanders, Lt. Jody Skogen of the Highway Patrol headquarters in Bismarck said he expects winter storms to force troopers to emphasize responding to accidents.

Weather forecasts call for more snow and high winds Wednesday and Thursday, conditions that could complicate open-road driving.

“We’re going to have as many troopers on the road as we can muster,” Skogen said. “Our primary concern is the safety of motorists.”

Cass County Lt. Rick Majerus said while there are no plans for Cass deputies to make an extra enforcement push around Thanksgiving, he also expects the storm will be the biggest focus around the holiday.

“With the weather coming in, looks like we’ll just have to keep that under control,” he said.

Police in Moorhead and Fargo said they’re not planning any enforcement blitzes for Thanksgiving, but both departments will have some next week.

In Moorhead, additional officers will be on duty on weekend nights throughout the month of December, on the lookout for drunk-driving offenses, said Sgt. Deric Swenson.

Fargo police will conduct two enforcement pushes at high-traffic locations sometime next week, Sgt. Mike Bernier said.

That follows a series of well-publicized Fargo blitzes last week as part of the national Click It or Ticket campaign, which produced 347 citations – an effort that Bernier estimated hauled in about $4,000 in fines.

Unlike Click It or Ticket, the locations and times of next week’s traffic blitzes will not be announced in advance, Bernier said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535