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MADD honors top cops for DUI arrests
Eleven police officers from throughout Kitsap County were honored Tuesday for their life-saving work in nabbing drunk drivers.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) awarded the officers from each local agency who made the most DUI arrests in 2007. The night's recognition also included a tribute to DUI victims and their families.
"I have met some of the most incredible people through this organization, unfortunately I wish I didn't have to meet them this way," said Betty Skinner of the MADD Kitsap Chapter.
The families of DUI victims Heather Meadows, Jessica Torres, Kyle Sizemore, Jeremiah Enderud and Dale Callaham attended the awards ceremony. A solemn, yet appreciative mood was evident among the group.
"I can't think of a more important award for someone in this line of business," said Joan Davis, Torres' mother. "If they keep one more person alive, it gives us the greatest gift. This is a club you never want to join, but we're strong; (Torres) wouldn't have wanted it any other way."
Torres was killed by a drunk driver on Clear Creek Road in North Kitsap on Jan. 21, 2008. Davis remembers her daughter as a beautiful, happy person who was full of life.
"She was so great, she really, really was," she said. "She was 34, happily married with two kids."
Following a victim tribute video accompanied by the song "One More Day" by Diamond Rio, the top officers accepted their awards. Kitsap County Sheriff's Deputy Lee Wheeler had the most DUI arrests with 100.
"He blew us out of the water with 100 DUI arrests," Skinner said.
Wheeler was followed by Bremerton Police Officer Donnell Rogers with 73 DUI arrests. Eight of those arrests were drunk drivers younger than 21. Washington State Patrol Trooper Krista Hedstrom, the lone female winner, made 62 DUI arrests in 2007.
"She has a sixth sense about her, she just knows to go after these impaired drivers," Skinner said. "Some say it's a sixth sense, but, personally, I think it's woman's intuition."
Other officers recognized were Officer Darrell Moore, 29 DUI arrests, Reserve Officer David Lom, 20 DUI arrests, Poulsbo Police Department; Officer Mark Williams, 19 DUI arrests, Suquamish Police Department; Officer Jeff Benkert, 12 DUI arrests, Bainbridge Island Police Department; Officer Jimmy Foster, 10 DUI arrests, Port Orchard Police Department; Cpl. Gary Apache, nine DUI arrests, Master at Arms 2nd Class Jesus Lugo, four DUI arrests, Naval Station Kitsap Police Department; and Officer Thomas Moench, 13 DUI arrests, Wackenhut Services Inc.
Community donations make it possible for the MADD Kitsap Chapter to provide a number of services beyond the law enforcement awards ceremony including mock crashes at local high schools, victim services and more. Tax-deductible donations can be made to the MADD Kitsap Chapter at PO Box 3936, Silverdale, WA 98383.
"If people donate to the Kitsap Chapter, it stays in Kitsap County," MADD Kitsap Chapter President Marsha Masters said.
For more information on donating or becoming involved with the organization, call Masters at (360) 692-4623.