On April 27, 2016 the Northern Nevada DUI Task Force and the Reno Kerak Shrine presented the 7th Law Enforcement Awards. We celebrated those hardworking officers, deputies and troopers who put their lives on the line for us every day to keep us safe on the roads and highways of Northern Nevada.
At the dinner, we honored the “best of the best” in law enforcement. Those who work on a daily basis to identify, apprehend, and arrest DUI offenders who choose to break the law and those who work to prevent underage drinking, attacking this epidemic from several perspectives. These award winners, as identified by agency leaders, have gone above and beyond their respective job descriptions and have become role models in their agencies.
Our theme for the awards was “Dedicated to the goal of No New Victims.” And that is the goal with all of our efforts with the DUI Task Force…. whether it be our Victim Impact Panels, community coalitions, or our legislative work.
To reflect our goal of No New Victims, we accepted nominations for our awards in three categories: most DUI arrests for 2014/2015 combined; outstanding effort in DUI enforcement, crash investigation or victim support; and outstanding effort in underage drinking prevention, party dispersal and compliance checks.
Here is a list of the officers who were recognized for their outstanding leadership:
Deputy Casey Negus – Humbolt County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Jaqueline Mitcham – Humbolt County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Michael Fox – Washoe County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Steve DeCarli – Washoe County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Miguel Diaz – Washoe County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Jeff Peebles – Lyon County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Chris Rivera – Carson City Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Josh Chaney – Carson City Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Erin McMahon – Carson City Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Jimmy Surratt – Carson City Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Mike Gibson – Carson City Sheriff’s Office
Officer James Hammerstone – Sparks Police Department
Officer Warren Conley – University of Nevada Police Services
Officer Dean Donnelly – Reno Police Department
Officer Matthew Bunn – Reno Police Department
Officer Charles Higley – Reno Police Department
Officer Kevin Hendrix – Reno Police Department
Sgt. Mike Edgell – Nevada Highway Patrol
Sgt. Eddie Bowers – Nevada Highway Patrol
Trooper Mikel Ortega – Nevada Highway Patrol
Trooper James Angel – Nevada Highway Patrol
Trooper Jeffrey Howell – Nevada Highway Patrol
Special Awards were presented to the following:
Judge Scott Pearson, Reno Justice Court
In recognition of outstanding efforts in bringing the 24/7 DUI offender program to Nevada and implementing a pilot program through your court. Thank you for your commitment to the safety of all Nevadans.
Judge William Gardner, Reno Municipal Court
In recognition of many years prosecuting DUI offenders through the Reno City Attorney’s Office, adjudicating DUI offenders as a Reno Municipal Court Judge and training professionals at both the National Judicial College and law enforcement academies. Thank you for your commitment to the safety of all Nevadans.
John Johansen, Office of Traffic Safety
In recognition of the many years and wealth of knowledge that was shared with the state of Nevada through the Office of Traffic Safety, we award and applaud the outstanding efforts of John Johansen in the areas of alcohol awareness, DUI prevention, and underage drinking prevention throughout his career. You are truly missed as an advocate in the safety community and were a friend to many.
Full circle back around to our theme of “Dedicated to the goal of No New Victims” we also presented a special gift to our Task Force Chairman Jim Holmes and his wife, Annie, on the 20th anniversary of the loss of their son, DJ Benardis. Jim and Annie were drafted into this DUI world as victims suffering the worst possible loss, that of their 18-year-old son at the hands of an alcohol-impaired driver. They channeled their grief and loss into a leadership role with the Task Force and have spoken to thousands of offenders, students, community members, and legislators about the possible and predictable consequences of drinking or drugging and driving. We thanked them for their continued dedication and presented them with a magnolia tree in honor and remembrance of DJ’s life.
Thank you to all of these award recipients and our entire prevention community for all that you do to keep our roadways and communities safe in Northern Nevada!
The Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County is committed to the public’s safety in all that it does. The RTC and the Northern Nevada DUI Task Force is encouraging everyone to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day responsibly and never drive impaired. For the 13th year, the RTC is offering free transit services to provide safe transportation for people celebrating the holiday.
Guest Post written by Stephie Mager
I hate the word victim. I never wanted to be one. Feb. 14, 1996 my world ended as I knew it. My only child, Stephen was killed in a car being driven by his best friend. I did not want to live one minute without him. I did not know how anyone could survive the sudden loss of their only child. I did not sleep for four days. My mind would not turn off. I found my thoughts drifting off as if he were still alive. Waiting for the noises he made every morning. When I was able to sleep I would suddenly awaken unable to breath. I would later learn that it was a panic attack. Wanting to make sense of this tragedy. Feeling as if this nightmare would never end.
I needed to find survivors. I needed to find other people who knew my loss and could help me find a reason to live. I attended a meeting of parents who had a child die. In some cases more than one child had died. They were a tremendous help but I still felt that my life had no purpose. I was a parent and now I was childless.
I decided to call MADD of Nevada. There I found people with a purpose. There were other people who had lost children, siblings, husbands, wives . There were individuals trying to overcome severe injury and there were people who just felt it was the right thing to do. Everyone doing what they could to stop DUI.
It started out by helping with the MADD Red Ribbon campaign. I wanted something more to do and found myself speaking in school classrooms, along with other victims about DUI. I found that I felt better when I was doing something with MADD. I found that this was also something my husband and I could do together. We found ourselves helping other families going through the legal system. We became active with our State Legislature, supporting or opposing legislative bills that involved DUI.
I found that I was becoming stronger. The emotions that drained my energy were being replaced by a feeling of usefulness and purpose. I was helping others as well as myself.
Now my husband and I volunteer with Northern Nevada DUI Task Force. We speak at the monthly Victim Impact Panels. DUI offenders are ordered by the courts to attend these panels. Victims speak about how DUI crime has affected their lives. Some speakers have experienced severe injury. Some, like us, have lost a family member.
These panels are very hard to do. It means going back to the most painful, devastating day of our lives. It is only because of the strength I have gained through volunteering that I am able to participate. I also know the importance of these panels. The sense of empowerment . We survivors are speaking freely to people convicted of DUI . We can tell them how devastating DUI causing death or serious injury is to families. We can talk about the life lost. We are given the opportunity to make a difference in their lives. We may say something that will make them think twice before driving impaired.
If you are a victim of DUI and want to make a difference, volunteers are always needed. I am sharing my experience with the hope that it will encourage others to get involved.
Be safe out there. If you’re planning on drinking, also have a plan for a safe and sober ride home!
This New Year’s Eve, RTC is offering FREE rides from 6pm-2am! Check the complete schedule at the link below:
Have a Safe and Happy New Year! ~Northern Nevada DUI Task Force
The Northern Nevada DUI Task Force had the opportunity to attend a teen program called DRIVE, hosted by the Nevada Highway Patrol and the Nevada Department of Public Safety. Deputy Teresa Aquila posted a fabulous article on her site, Teresa’s Garage, explaining the program. Teens and parents alike should take a look! “Why Zero Teen Fatalities?”
Did you know that St. Patrick’s Day is one of the 5 heaviest drinking days of the year? This year have a plan and play it safe!
According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, over St. Patrick’s Day weekends from 2009 to 2013, there were a total of 276 lives lost in drunk-driving crashes. Every DUI crash is preventable!
Here are some tips to enjoy a safe and fun holiday:
- Before celebrating St. Patrick’s Day this year, decide whether you’ll drink or you’ll drive. You can’t do both.
- If you’re planning on drinking, now is the time to arrange your ride home. When you head out, leave your keys at home or give them to your sober driver.
- If you’re planning on driving that night, commit to staying sober.
- Look up a local taxi company, and save their number in your phone. It’s always a good idea to have a backup plan.
- A sober driver will be your luckiest charm this St. Patrick’s Day.
- On March 17, ride FREE after 4pm and enjoy a safe celebration on RTC RIDE, RTC RAPID and Sierra Spirit! http://www.rtcwashoe.com/hottopics/documents/StPatricksDay/St_P_poster15.pdf
An Irish Friendship Wish to you… May the hand of a friend always be near you, and may your friend be sober. Don’t drink or drug and drive!
Here’s an important message from the Northern Nevada DUI Task Force Chairman, Jim Holmes and the Regional Transportation Commission of Washoe County. Have a plan this New Year’s Eve! Take the RTC Safe Ride, make arrangements for a designated driver, or call a safe ride home. Keep our community safe this holiday season… and always!