Police recognized for alcohol enforcement efforts

Published 5:08 pm Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Twelve area law enforcement officers from various departments were recognized recently by the Piedmont Alcohol Safety Action Program for efforts to reduce drunk driving.

The officers were recognized by the Piedmont Alcohol Safety Action Program at the 18th annual Police Recognition Event for ticketing at least five drunk drivers during the year. The recognition — which included presentation of plaques, a pat on the back by board members, and lunch — was held Wednesday, Dec. 9 in the Farmville Train Station. Mothers Against Drunk Drivers and Nationwide Insurance joined on as sponsors.

The event was done as part of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month.

“You do a great, great job,” said Douglas Randolph, chairman of the Piedmont Alcohol Safety Action Program’s — known as ASAP — Board of Directors. “With all the publicity that’s going on now I wouldn’t be in your shoes for anything; but without you, where would we be? For the job you do, we at the board really, really thank you. You’ve done a job that is much, much needed.”

ASAP is one of the initiatives of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program — known as VASAP — intended to improve highway safety by decreasing occurrences of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. VASAP uses education, counseling and referral services to help people who have been arrested for drunk driving.

Ronnie Roberts, chief of police for Louisa and the event’s keynote speaker, told the officers that he has seen about every type of crash you could see, and remembers the difficulty of telling people about relatives killed in alcohol-involved crashes. One woman insisted he tell her the reason for his visit in front of her middle school-aged daughter, over his insistence she not be there. “I can still hear the scream,” he said.

Eventually, he reached a decision.

“I said, ‘I’ve got to do something to stop this.’”

DUI arrest can be arduous

work, he said. An arrest can easily take three hours, a big part of a day. “But how many lives have you saved with that stop?” he noted.

Ultimately, Roberts told the officers, their efforts to take drunk drivers off of the streets may be saving lives. “That’s what it’s all about,” he said. “It’s not about how many arrests I’ve made. It’s about how many lives I’ve saved getting drunk drivers off the road.”

Retired Trooper Allen Ross Jr., who now works with the group as enforcement liaison, said that when he was on still working, attending this presentation was one of the highlights of the year because “somebody saw I did something other than my supervisor.”

“Every time you all get one off of the road I’ don’t have to worry about him hitting me, hitting one of my family,” he said.

Robyn B. Allen, director of the Piedmont ASAP, said that getting arrested and ordered into VASAP is sometimes the only thing that leads some to get the help they need for their abuse.

“We need to have people understand that it’s still a serious issue,” she said. “That’s why we like to bring these people together and honor them.”