Troopers stationed at the York barracks of Pennsylvania State Police averaged more than two intoxicated-driving arrests a day in 2012.
Their 747 DUI busts aren't only an all-time high for the station, barracks commander Lt. Frederick Hess said -- they're also the most arrests made by any barracks last year.
"I don't think anyone else in the state even had 600," he said. "(York was) by far the most productive state police barracks in the commonwealth, as far as the number of DUI arrests made in 2012."
Troopers at the York barracks have produced "outstanding numbers" over the past few years, according to Hess.
"I'm very proud of all the troopers assigned here to York," he said. "They're a really good group of highly motivated and well-trained troopers. A lot of times my job is to make their job as easy as I can and stand out of their way."
The York barracks came close to topping the state in 2011 with 711 DUI arrests, according to Hess, but that year the Uniontown barracks in Fayette County had 718 arrests.
At the time, 711 DUI arrests was an all-time record for the York barracks, the lieutenant said.
Capt. Steve Junkin said troopers see firsthand the life-changing consequences of driving under the influence, especially for "those innocent victims who were driving down the road minding their own business."
York's troopers "made a firm commitment to stop that," said Junkin, commanding officer of PSP's Troop H, which includes the York barracks.
The numbers: The five York-based troopers with the most DUI arrests last year are:
---Trooper Shawn Panchik, 73 arrests.
---Trooper Matthew Hartung, 61 arrests.
---Trooper Jeremiah Mistick, 60 arrests.
---Trooper Joseph Kozuch, 58 arrests.
---Cpl. Sean Taylor, 57 arrests.
Hess said he's nominated all five for the Pennsylvania DUI Association's annual Top Gun awards, which recognizes state and local police officers who excel at identifying and arresting intoxicated drivers. Winners are announced in November.
Hess said he also nominated a sixth trooper, Cpl. Brian Torkar, for his work as a trained drug recognition expert. As a DRE, Torkar is trained to spot people driving under the influence of various
drugs and medications. He's a previous Top Gun winner.
Torkar coordinates and supervises most DUI checkpoints run by state police in York County, and also regularly helps out at checkpoints conducted by municipal police, according to Hess.
Drugged driving: "The continued increase in DUI arrests is shifting more toward drugged driving and not just drunken driving," Junkin said, and called that increase substantial.
That's because in recent years, state police have focused on training troopers to be DREs, the captain said.
"They're highly motivated ... and very skilled at what they do," Junkin said.
There's another reason too, according to Hess.
"We have a very good informal mentoring program here at the York station, where our more senior troopers -- who are more experienced in detecting impaired drivers -- pass that knowledge and skill onto new troopers," Hess said.
Mentoring ensures there's no brain drain when senior troopers are promoted or transferred to other barracks, he said.
'Roads safer': Wayne Harper, director of the Center for Traffic Safety, said the high number of DUI arrests isn't because York County has more impaired drivers than other counties. It's because state troopers here continue to do "phenomenal" work, he said.
"It reflects the high priority they've given it," Harper said. "They deserve every bit of credit they get."
Harper said he also believes increased DUI enforcement by both state and local police is partially responsible for a decrease in fatal crashes here.
"The bottom line is, it's making our roads safer," he said.
In 2012, 26 people died in York County crashes, according to records from the county coroner's office. It's about half of 2011's 50 fatalities.
-- Staff writer Liz Evans Scolforo can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.