Edina police officers score DWI Hat Tricks

The Minnesota Office of Traffic Safety recently honored Edina Police Officer Ben Wenande for his first “DWI hat trick” – arresting three people for driving while intoxicated during a single shift.
It wasn’t a holiday or special day – just a typical Saturday night. From 6 p.m. June 3 to 6 a.m. June 4, Wenande stopped drivers on Minnesota Highways 62 and 100 going through Edina. On his way back from dropping one suspected drunk driver off at jail, he pulled over another.
“I think that night, I stopped a total of five cars, and three of them were drunk drivers,” he said.
To get two DWIs in a shift is a lot, said Lt. Dan Conboy. For a patrol officer to have three is rare.
Bill Hammes, Law Enforcement Liaison for the Office of Traffic Safety, honored Wenande with a special baseball cap during shift roll call July 13. The cap, featuring a bat symbol, comes with a pin of two hockey sticks crisscrossed over a beer bottle.
In an ironic twist, days after receiving his award, Wenande arrested three more DWI drivers in a single shift, as did Officer Nicholas Donahue. They are awaiting official confirmation from Office of Traffic Safety, which is a division of the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.
They remain far behind Edina Officer Jacob Heckert, whose job is to focus on DWIs. He’s had eight hat tricks in three years. The Office of Traffic Safety has honored him three times with hockey sticks, given for the second hat trick, and a hockey jersey for his efforts.
“The work ethic in the Edina Police Department is absolutely amazing,” Hammes said. “I think they just recognize the dangers of these people out on the streets.”
Heckert has seen how dangerous impaired drivers can be.
“Recently, I had a DWI crash on 50th Street right by the police department in a construction area, and the only thing stopping his vehicle was a construction cone stuck under the vehicle. The driver was passed out with the vehicle still in drive and had to be woken up with a medical maneuver called a sternum rub,” Heckert said. “I also had a driver overdose on heroin while driving once and had to be to be revived with Narcan after crashing his vehicle.”
Though the legal limit is 0.08 in Minnesota, it’s not uncommon to find drivers with a breath alcohol concentration three to four times that.
“We’re finding them, but we’d rather not be finding them,” Wenande said.
Edina Police Chief Dave Nelson says the DWI arrests are part of the city’s effort to target the top complaint from residents – traffic safety. His phone rings regularly about people speeding, blowing through stop signs and driving recklessly.
“If it wasn’t the No. 1 complaint from our residents, it wouldn’t be as high on our priority list,” he said.
A reputation for cracking down on DWIs and enforcing traffic rules helps to reduce overall crime in the city, Nelson believes, especially when you’re right next door to a major city like Minneapolis.
“The higher visibility we have, the more crime is deterred,” he said.
For more information, contact Edina Police at 952-826-1610.