Shelby County Sheriff deputies to take on new DUI training

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — In 2021, Shelby County had almost 600 driving under the influence (DUI) arrests.

The Shelby County Sheriff’s Office said with only a handful of deputies trained as DUI investigators, they’re often stretched thin.

In an exclusive interview with FOX13, the traffic patrol says its deputies will now have new training under their belt and it will help turn a process that currently takes 2-3 hours and cut that time in half.

In Shelby County, when a sheriff’s office deputy pulls over a driver who may be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, most deputies can only do a basic check.

“We have about 110 patrol deputies out on patrol each day,” said Anthony Buckner, assistant chief of patrol with Shelby County Sheriff’s Office.

“They could do some minimal things, such as they’re doing the walk in a straight line to check their eyes, or maybe even see if they have an odor of intoxicant coming off their person. They can conduct a minimum investigation, but they would typically call the DUI technician over to further their investigation,” he added.

In the past, there were five DUI technicians spread thin across the entire county. That’s 785-square miles for five people, including supporting neighboring law enforcement agencies.

Buckner said that’s about to change: “The plan is to try and six more deputies in February and continue to train more and more deputies until hopefully at some point if the equipment and the financial support and say we have all of our deputies with the equipment and the training necessary to investigate impaired drivers.”

He said the department will be taking groups of patrol deputies and cross-training them to also become DUI investigators.

This requires extra training.

“These 72 hours is additional training on how to operate the equipment that they will be issued. And as a refresher course on investigating suspected drivers who are impaired.”

That equipment includes a computer, stylus, printer, a signature pad, and medical supplies.

“So from the perspective of equipment, it’s it costs us about $842 per deputy to give them all of the equipment necessary to conduct their investigations,” said Buckner.