Rob Targosz’s dedication to fighting drunken driving prompted the Gilbert police officer to approach his supervisor a few years ago about getting a new, larger DUI van.
It was late 2004 and the police department’s DUI arrests were going through the roof, police Lt. Ken Buckland said. DUI arrests in Gilbert have continued to escalate from 1,453 that year to 2,314 last year.
As a DUI officer, Targosz was qualified to design the command van. He researched the cost and got a schematic from Columbus, Ohio-based Farber Specialty Vehicles, which customizes DUI vehicles.
“He basically laid the foundation for what we were looking for,” Buckland said.
On April 11, 2006, Targosz took his proposal for the command vehicle to the Gilbert Town Council. Nineteen days later, the 37-year-old officer was killed in the line of duty, after being hit on his motorcycle by a driver police believe had been drinking and ran a red light.
On Monday, the 35-foot DUI command vehicle will be unveiled at a memorial ceremony for Targosz. The $250,000 motor home replaces an Isuzu truck the size of a small moving van that had served as Gilbert police’s DUI command vehicle since the late 1990s.
“He was very passionate about DUIs. He was very passionate about this,” said Sgt. Scott Girardin, traffic supervisor. “If it wasn’t for him, we wouldn’t have this today.”
Police spokesman Sgt. Andrew Duncan said the DUI command vehicle was another example of Targosz bringing a solution to the town’s growth problems.
The vehicle, marked “Gilbert Police D.U.I. Enforcement” on the side, is equipped with three chairs where blood is drawn, a bathroom, evidence refrigerator, two holding cells, and three work stations for computers.
The van is designed to help officers process drunken drivers more quickly, allowing police to get back on the street to patrol.
The van — paid for with a $180,000 grant from the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and $70,000 from Gilbert — will be first put to use during a DUI task force effort on Memorial Day weekend.