Tue, Mar 5, 2013
State officials on Tuesday presented recognition awards to law enforcement officers, agencies, a judge and a district attorney for their efforts to keep Louisiana highways safe from drunk drivers.
The ceremony was the fifth year the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission has honored officers and others for their commitment to keeping impaired drivers off the roads. Driving while intoxicated is a serious problem in Louisiana and across the nation. In 2011, 41 percent of the 676 people killed in Louisiana crashes were involved in alcohol-related incidents. Authorities across Louisiana made almost 30,000 DWI arrests in 2011, the most recent year for which complete data is available.
Speakers and presenters at the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission’s DWI awards ceremony included Col. Mike Edmonson, superintendent of Louisiana State Police; Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, chairman of the Highway Safety Commission; Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Commission; State Police Lt. Julie Lewis, and Linda Hull, coordinator of the awards.
Louisiana traffic deaths peaked in 2007 with 993 fatalities. After 2007, Louisiana experienced four consecutive years of declines in crash deaths until 2011 when 676 people lost their lives-a decline of about one-third, or 317 fewer fatalities.
“The number of people killed in crashes in Louisiana went down considerably between 2007 and 2011,” said Calcasieu Parish Sheriff Tony Mancuso, who is also chairman of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission. “We’ve also experienced a decline in the percentage of alcohol-related crash deaths. The men and women honored here today played an important role in helping make our roads safer.”
The Louisiana Highway Safety Commission works year-round to support enforcement and education programs related to DWI and other problem driving behaviors. The awards program, started in 2008, was developed with the support and cooperation of Louisiana State Police, Louisiana Department of Wildlife&Fisheries, Louisiana Sheriff’s Association, Louisiana Judicial Association, and the Louisiana District Attorneys Association.
“Alcohol and failure to wear seat belts are two of the main factors in fatal crashes,” said LeBlanc. “Our Commission partners with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, State Police and local law enforcement agencies to coordinate intensive programs designed to save lives by removing drunk drivers from our roads and getting all motorists to buckle up.”
Edmonson said it is important that officials take a “no-nonsense approach” to DWI enforcement.
“As impaired driving is an on-going, yet preventable, public safety problem that leads to thousands of fatalities and injuries each year across the state, I believe it is important that we recognize those who have made significant efforts to curb those numbers,” Edmonson said. “This cannot be achieved without the partnership among law enforcement, district attorneys and judges who continue to take a no-nonsense approach to sending a clear message to DWI offenders.”
The awards were presented to law enforcement officers for their diligence in arresting DWI violators. City Court Judge Suzan Ponder of Baton Rouge was recognized for using a grant from the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission to adopt and implement the successful
Sobriety Court in the capital city. Ricky Babin, district attorney of the 23rd Judicial District, was recognized for taking an aggressive approach to prosecuting DWI violations, particularly repeat violations, and other leadership in the DWI field.
The following law enforcement agencies, officers, deputies, district attorney and judge were presented awards for their extraordinary work in DWI enforcement.
Judge Suzan Ponder, Baton RougeCity Court Division E
District Attorney Ricky Babin, 23rd Judicial District, Donaldsonville, La.
Louisiana State Police, Troop L, Trooper Kevin Cefalu
Louisiana Wildlife and Fisheries, Region 7, Sgt. Toby Miller
Alexandria PD-Chief Loren Lampert, Cpl. Douglas Prestridge
Ascension Parish SO-Sheriff Jeffrey Wiley, Sgt. Teddy Gonzales
Assumption Parish SO-Sheriff Mike Waguespack, Deputy Donald Calamia, Jr.
Baton Rouge PD-Provisional Chief Carl Dabadie, Cpl. Mickey Duncan
Causeway Bridge PD-Chief Nick Congemi, Officer Mikel Melton
Denham Springs PD-Chief Paul Scott Jones, Officer Brien LeBlanc
East Baton Rouge SO-Sheriff Sid Gautreaux, Deputy Jeffery Martrain
Franklinton PD-Chief Donald Folse, Patrolman 1st Class James Pugh
Kenner PD- Chief Steve Caraway, Officers Patrick Gallager & Jacob Tolpi
Lafayette PD-Chief Jim Craft, Officer Pratimokone Aphaiyarath
Lafourche Parish SO-Sheriff Craig Webre, Deputy Joseph Anderson
Livingston Parish SO-Sheriff Jason Gerald Ard, Deputy Nick Locicero
Livingston PD-Chief Randy Dufrene, Officer Douglas Mincin
LSU PD-Chief Lawrence Rabalais, Officer Tyler Comeaux
West Monroe PD-Chief Jerry Stansbury, Sgt. C.J. Beck, Officer Amber Ward
Pineville PD- Chief Donald Weatherford
Rapides Parish SO-Sheriff William Earl Hilton, Deputy Randall Wilmore
Shreveport PD-Chief Willie Shaw, Jr., Officer Donald Belanger