Hollister Police and San Benito County Sheriff’s deputies were busy this past weekend responding to numerous incidents involving violent or reckless behavior—on top of a planned traffic safety checkpoint in the city limits, according to authorities.
The Sept. 24 DUI and driver’s license checkpoint—led by the Hollister Police Department—took place for several hours late into the evening on San Benito Street near the intersection of Second Street. During the checkpoint, officers arrested three motorists on suspicion of driving under the influence and cited 10 people for driving without a license, Hollister Police Chief Carlos Reynoso said.
Authorities towed one of the vehicles that was driven by a DUI suspect, who had prior arrests for impaired driving, Reynoso said.
But the value and mission of such high-visibility police operations go beyond making arrests, according to law enforcement authorities. Checkpoints are often effective tools to prevent crime and promote public awareness and education of the rules of the road.
“The most important part of the event is for people to be aware and remind everyone to not drink and drive,” Reynoso said. “The number of people who decide not to drive under the influence or plan to have a designated driver because they heard about the checkpoint or know we have checkpoints from time to time cannot be gauged.”
Although some members of the public have criticized local police for announcing DUI checkpoint schedules and locations in advance, Reynoso noted that state laws require such disclosures.
California has seen a “disturbing increase” in drug impaired traffic crashes in recent years, Hollister Police said in a press release before the Sept. 24 event. Authorities note, “DUI doesn’t just mean booze,” as prescription drugs can also impair a motorist’s ability to drive.
“Marijuana can also be impairing, especially in combination with alcohol or other drugs, and can result in a DUI,” says the press release.
Research has shown that crashes involving an impaired driver can be reduced by up to 20% when well-publicized enforcement operations are routinely conducted, according to authorities.
DUI checkpoints are typically placed in locations where collisions and DUI arrests have been more frequent, “affording the greatest opportunity for achieving drunk and drugged driving deterrence,” police said.
The Sept. 24 checkpoint in Hollister was funded through a grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety.
Violence at Hollister High
Authorities arrested several suspects in relation to numerous incidents of violence at Hollister High School during the football game the night of Sept. 23.
The violence started about 8:30pm, when a group of juveniles arrived at the game “and began challenging people to fight,” says a social media post from the San Benito County Sheriff. Three sheriff’s deputies were assigned to patrol the campus and stadium grounds during the game.
While deputies and school security staff were responding to initial reports of violence, a fight broke out just inside the stadium gates, authorities said. A male juvenile was cut with a weapon during that fight. During the investigation, a knife was recovered from the victim.
Investigators did not immediately determine if the victim cut himself or if someone else cut him. The sheriff’s Sept. 23 Facebook post described the wound as “very small/minor.”
While deputies were breaking up that fight, three male juveniles surrounded them and challenged the deputies to fight, authorities said. Those three juveniles were arrested on suspicion of obstruction of a peace officer.
Moments later, an adult male approached a sheriff’s commander and threatened to kill him, police said. That man was arrested as well.
Sheriff’s deputies received yet another report during the game of two female juveniles fighting outside the stadium, but have not offered details on that incident.
The sheriff’s office’s social media post noted that those involved in the violence are from San Benito County, and were not associated with the visiting football team’s Salinas High School.
“Hollister High School has been proactive in asking our office to staff these games as we have since 2019 for this very reason,” says the sheriff’s office post. “We had staff on scene and there is also a private security presence at the stadium for the duration of the games.”
Hollister High School did not return a phone call requesting comment. A sheriff’s captain did not respond to an email requesting additional details about the Sept. 23 incidents and arrests.