Drunk driving is obviously wrong. There’s not a single excuse for it, and you should be so terrified of the consequences — not just the threat of arrest, legal battles and financial ruin, but killing yourself or others — that you don’t dare even consider it. If police are going to exist for anything, it should be to stop drunk drivers.
That said, you couldn’t pay me to assist the police in conducting training and research, nevermind volunteer to do so. But this is exactly what some police departments across the country are doing. As TikToker @b_lashess shared in a video last week, her local police in Long Island hosted an “alcohol workshop” in which she and her friends volunteered to spend four hours at the station getting drunk, eating pizza and playing board games. After these four hours, cops in training assessed their drunkenness, conducted sobriety tests and attempted to guess exactly how drunk volunteers were to better prosecute drunk drivers.
“So cool I got to ride in a cop car,” she says in the beginning of the video describing how the police picked up her and her friend for the event in a cruiser. “Here we are being cute, so fun. The cops were so nice,” she continues.
The video now has seven million views and thousands of comments, primarily from people astonished that such a workshop exists. But this isn’t just a thing in Long Island — there’s a record of similar events taking place in Maryland, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Minnesota and more.
And while @b_lashess stated that she had to bring her own booze and snacks, some departments have provided free alcohol for participants. “The South Metro Public Safety Training Facility is seeking 12 people (age 21 and over) each day to serve as test subjects,” Minnesota Police shared on their website in 2019. “In a controlled environment, volunteers drink measured amounts of alcoholic beverages (hard liquor; no beer or wine) over a two-hour period, followed by sobriety testing conducted by law enforcement officers. Participants will be breathalyzed before and after officer testing.”
Also in 2019, in Pennsylvania, a call for three volunteers made by the Kutztown Borough Police Department on Facebook made headlines after they received hundreds of responses from people wanting to participate. “I’ve awaited this day. My destiny has arrived,” one person commented. “Is there a spectator area?” asked another.
Apparently, spending hours with cops is a pretty exciting prospect for some people, particularly when free booze is in play. But again, while combating drunk driving is a noble cause, signing up to ride in a cop car and spend your day in police custody and talking about how “nice” they are is absurd when you consider the conditions in which most people have such an experience. It’s akin to prison-themed escape rooms wherein people pay to feel like they’re in jail for a few hours as some sort of “fun” activity, a form of tourism of the carceral state.
Like the escape rooms, though, alcohol workshops aren’t much like the reality of being in prison or dealing with police. Instead, they’re strictly depictions of these ordeals intended for those who have never experienced them, and smugly believe they never will. Undoubtedly, whether someone is arrested for a serious cause like drunk driving or something else, it won’t feel quite so fun.