Vargas: Political correctness puts public at risk when PD cancels DUI checkpoint


Across the country, police departments operated DUI checkpoints and ran additional enforcement because of the Cinco de Mayo holiday. One of those cities was not Oakland.

Apparently some members of the community felt the department’s selective enforcement on the holiday was culturally insensitive. The department, in response, cancelled their enforcement efforts.

I can’t question the department’s response since I don’t know the reasoning for their decision but according to a department spokeswoman the original press release may have been culturally insensitive.

It read:

“In the United States, Cinco de Mayo has become synonymous with festive fiestas and salty margaritas. Historically, the fifth of May commemorates Mexico’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War, but present-day celebrations often lead to drunk driving — and there’s no victory in that,” the bulletin began.

“So before your first margarita, cold beer, or shot of tequila this Cinco de Mayo, make sure you have a designated sober driver or arrange another safe way home.”

I’m sorry, I just don’t see it. As first generation American of Mexican descent raised speaking Spanish and bicultural, I am not at all offended. In fact, I appreciate the very public efforts to educate the community and address the issue of public safety on the road.

Who could argue with that?

First off, let’s look at the facts. Cinco de Mayo has become synonymous with cheap margaritas and beer. It was a minor Mexican holiday that has been culturally appropriated by Americans in order to sell more food and alcohol.

Historically it is well known that in 1989, the company that markets Corona beer saw a potential marketing opportunity. The efforts were a success and the consumption of alcohol on Cinco de Mayo has exponentially increased ever since.

According to Inc. Magazine, this year will be a 1.5 trillion-dollar opportunity for companies to capitalize on Cinco de Mayo marketing efforts.

It’s just common sense. When there is more alcohol consumption, there will be more drinking. When there is more drinking, there will be more drunks. With more drunks, there will be a few who will make a poor decision and get behind the wheel of a car.

Once again, I don’t fault Oakland Police Department. I don’t know their politics or social dynamics. It’s regrettable that a “few” people were offended and complained.

That is the reality of modern policing, however.

Loud voices often overcome common sense and have a direct impact on police deployment.

The end result is you run the risk of endangering public safety.

That would, of course, be the most regrettable thing of all.