B.A.T. Mobile joins ranks of Highway Safety Division of Oglala Sioux Tribe
PINE RIDGE, S.D. — The B.A.T. Mobile has joined the ranks of the Highway Safety Division for the Oglala-Lakota Nation. B.A.T. stands for Blood Alcohol Testing, and that’s the main intention for the vehicle, but this addition has many other purposes.
About a decade ago, Oglala Lakota Nation averaged between 25 and 30 fatal crashes per year. Many of those were drug and alcohol related, but stricter rules have helped to get these numbers down to the single digits.
Still, one DUI is too many, and the B.A.T. Mobile aims to help end impaired driving safely.
Captain Juergen Rascher, with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Highway Safety, talked about the improvement in their ability to patrol roadways with the vehicle.
“I remember standing out on the road with the rest of the crew at 30 below with 15-20 mile an hour winds, and we would literally switch and run back and forth to our units for 5 minutes and warm up and come back out when cars would come through,” he explains.
Officers now have a warm place to conduct sobriety testing, and this vehicle also is more visible to drivers than a patrol car, which protects motorists as well as officers
. The Oglala Sioux Tribe purchased the vehicle through a partnership with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and it features a 14 foot mast that can also function as a cell tower, with lights bright enough to light up a football field.
“If we have a power outage, a search and rescue, motor vehicle crash at night, it helps us illuminate a lot of stuff. It also has cameras all the way around as well as inside so we can have footage,” Rascher adds.
There’s a line inside to conduct field sobriety tests, as well as seven cells to transport subjects safely. Officers are hoping to reach a year with no fatalities, because they want to continue to see their community rise.
Lieutenant Anthony Long Soldier, also with the Oglala Sioux Tribe Department of Highway Safety, discussed the importance of making the area increasingly safe.
“Since we’re from here, we live here, we invest in here, we would like to see it down, controlled between, almost zero numbers,” he says.
Officers also say that brining the vehicle around the community and to schools encourages citizens to make wise choices and slow down on the roads.
The B.A.T. Mobile was dedicated to Captain Ken Franks, who served his career with Highway Safety and impacted the lives of many patrolmen as well as Pine Ridge residents.
“He was an awesome guy, a great captain,” Long Soldier says. “I worked with him for almost 20 years. He’s my bother and I‘m glad it was dedicated to him.”