In the six years of Operation Safe Ride, Woodstock police officers have provided more than 325 free rides to residents on New Year’s Eve, making roads in the city safer for all drivers, Woodstock Police Department spokeswoman Brittany Duncan said.
“The local establishments love it, the citizens love it and appreciate it, and it has grown in popularity over the years,” Duncan said. “It’s really popular, and the citizens, they just love it.”
To be eligible for the free program, residents must be at an establishment inside the city limits of Woodstock, live a “reasonable distance” within Woodstock and not have money to call a taxi, Duncan said.
Residents who don’t feel safe to drive on New Year’s Eve can get a free ride by calling (678) 414-2676.
“They’re very grateful, very appreciative, and everyone’s usually in very good spirits,” Duncan said of the passengers.
Police will offer rides between 9 p.m. and 3 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, and they will use their 15-passenger transport van to take residents home.
“Typically, after midnight, people are done celebrating and they want to go home, and we want to get them home responsibly, so that’s when it generally picks up,” Duncan said. “We’re also available for those that just want to be at home when the clock strikes midnight. So it’s 9 p.m. to 3 a.m., and those hours seem to work well for people who are celebrating.”
Neese Towing participates in the program, offering to tow vehicles to residents’ homes for free. Duncan said Neese Towing has been offering their towing service for free as part of the Operation Safe Ride program for years.
“They jumped on board to the program shortly after we created it,” Duncan said. “Some people will say, ‘Well, I want to drive because I want to have my vehicle home the next day when I wake up.’ So, it’s kind of a deterrent mechanism. Now you don’t have any excuse because Neese Towing will tow your vehicle to your home.”
Woodstock Police Special Operations Group Commander Lt. Troy Brazie said the program is a way for police to help the community during the holiday.
“The main reason for this operation is to ensure that residents can celebrate the holiday, endanger the lives of others by driving impaired,” Brazie said in a news release. “We have fun interacting with all of the residents and meeting new people. It is a way for us to get out in the community while keeping the streets of Woodstock safe.”