Local officers honored for impaired-driving enforcement

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety (KOHS) honored more than 200 law enforcement officers from more than 180 agencies across the Commonwealth for their efforts to target impaired drivers.

Two law enforcement officers from Bell County were recently named winners. Officer Michael Smith with the Pineville Police Department was honored in the Division 1 category and Middlesboro Police Department Sgt. Barry Cowan was honored in the Division 2 category. KSP Post 10 Trooper Sidney Wagner was honored in the Division 6 category.

The 2019 Governor’s Impaired Driving Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most impaired-driving arrests in each agency and Highway Safety All-Star awards were presented to the top three in each division.

“Today is more than just receiving an award,” said KOHS Acting Director Jason Siwula. “It is about saving lives and that is what officers do every time they arrest an impaired driver.”

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, last year in Kentucky, there were 4,742 crashes related to impaired driving, resulting in 2,415 injuries and 124 deaths. This represented an across the board decrease compared to 2017’s 5,350 reported crashes related to impaired driving, resulting in 2,781 injuries and 154 deaths.

“Impaired driving is 100 percent preventable,” said Siwula. “While we’re pleased with the decrease, one death is too many. Our office will continue to support law enforcement efforts to remove impaired drivers from our roads, including providing federal funds for additional enforcement during this holiday season.”

The KOHS, Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement agencies are partnering for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday enforcement campaign. Officers will be out Dec. 13, 2019 through Jan. 1, 2020 watching for any moving hazardous violation, with an emphasis on impaired driving. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds the campaign and reports high-visibility enforcement reduces impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

In addition to the individual and division impaired driving arrest awards, the KOHS also presented special recognition Highway Safety All-Star awards to those who aided in the recent improvement of Kentucky’s Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training. Within the last two years, Kentucky recertified 32 DRE officers and trained 11 new DRE officers. Seventeen ARIDE classes hosted throughout the state trained 486 officers.

“It’s exciting to see Kentucky law enforcement agencies setting the bar in impaired driving enforcement,” said Grundy County Sheriff and DRE Expert Clint Shrum from Tennessee. “The countless number of lives that have been saved because of their efforts may never be known. I appreciate and applaud their success.”