Garden Grove

Fighting DUIs in memory of Mike Kreza

GGPD OFFICER Tom Capps, who was friends with Costa Mesa Fire Captain Mike Kreza, participates in a DUI checkpoint on Harbor Boulevard in Garden Grove. Capt. Kreza was killed recently by a DUI driver (Photo by Steven Georges/Behind the Badge).

By Lou Ponsi

DUI checkpoints staged on Orange County roadways are similar, regardless of the law enforcement agency running them.

Well-lit signs alert drivers of the approaching checkpoint as vehicles are generally funneled into two lanes by narrowing rows of orange cones.

Officers then will stop vehicles based on a pre-determined formula: every vehicle, every other vehicle, every third vehicle, etc.

The checkpoint set up by Garden Grove Police Department along Harbor Boulevard on Dec. 22 added an element that would show drivers the real cost of intoxicated driving … the human cost.

Poster-sized photos of fallen Costa Mesa Fire Capt. Mike Kreza, posing with his wife, Shanna, and daughters Audrey, Kaylie and Layla, were positioned along both lines so that drivers passing through the checkpoint couldn’t help but see the images.

Kreza, 44, was riding his bicycle along Alicia Parkway at 8 a.m. Nov. 3 when he was struck by a van driven by an allegedly impaired 25-year-old man, who was arrested at the scene.

Kreza died two days later, prompting murder charges against Stephen Taylor Scarpa, 25, of Mission Viejo.

GGPD traffic officer Tom Capps, a longtime friend of Kreza and his wife, dedicated the checkpoint to Kreza.

The department also is dedicating every DUI arrest made during December to Kreza, Capps said.

“We want people to see that there is an actual effect and consequence for driving impaired, that can either be on drugs, alcohol or both,” Capps said. “There are real consequences when families lose their loved ones. We’re hoping people see that and it will make them think twice before drinking and driving or taking pills or illicit drugs and driving.”

Capps asked Shanna Kreza’s permission to display the family portrait at the checkpoint and she was 100-percent behind the idea, the officer said.

“She said that anything that gets his story out is a great idea,” Capps said.

While Capps isn’t the avid runner that Kreza was, he plans to honor his friend by running a leg of law enforcement’s 120-mile Baker to Vegas relay on March 23 and 24.

For more on law enforcement issues and personalities, go to http://www.behindthebadge.com .

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