Those who ring in the new year with alcohol can catch a ride home with Great Bend Police Chief Dean Akings or Sgt. Gary Davis. Or they can drive and possibly catch a ride to jail with another officer.
Akings and Davis will be offering the New Year’s Taxi, driving partiers home on Saturday night. The telephone number to call for this service is 620-639-TAXI (639-8294). They will go anywhere in Barton County for a $5 donation to the DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) program. But Akings said he wouldn’t turn someone away who didn’t have any money.
Although it’s called the New Year’s Taxi, that doesn’t mean people can catch a ride from one party to another. And the service shuts down at 3 a.m.
This is the fourth year that the Great Bend Police Department has offered the service. Akings said he doesn’t mind giving up one night a year to see people safely home.
"It’s really been kind of rewarding," he said. "If we can do anything to keep folks from driving impaired, it’s a win-win."
Not many people took advantage of the service last year, and not everyone who asked for a ride was drunk. "Some didn’t feel comfortable driving," Akings said, recalling a passenger who appeared to be sober even though he’d celebrated with an adult beverage. He didn’t want to risk losing his commercial driver’s license by driving impaired. "He told me, ‘If I get a DUI I don’t get a paycheck.’"
Lloyd Boger will be riding shotgun with Akings, and Davis will also have a riding partner. They’ll be rolling in Suburbans donated by Doonan GMC. As always, Nex-Tech Wireless is donating the telephones, and Eagle Radio is credited with organizing the program.
Even though it will mean paying some overtime, the GBPD will have a full force on patrol Saturday night, watching for impaired drivers, Akings said. Sheriff Greg Armstrong said the Barton County Sheriff’s Office will also have patrols out.