Covering Louisiana

Mar 19, 2014 12:44 PM by PRESS RELEASE

Recognition awards presented to leaders in reducing impaired driving

Strong laws, increased enforcement, committed prosecutors and special DWI courts are helping reduce the number of people killed by drunk drivers on Louisiana roads, according to Louisiana Highway Safety Commission officials.

As part of efforts to keep a strong focus on the impaired driving problem, the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission on Tuesday presented recognition awards to leaders from a variety of professions who have helped save lives. The awards ceremony was the sixth year the Commission has honored law enforcement 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 2012, 41 percent of the 722 people killed in Louisiana crashes were involved in alcohol-related incidents.

Col. Mike Edmonson, Louisiana State Police superintendent, told the awards recipients that they are on the front lines of efforts to protect the public against impaired drivers.

"Each year, impaired drivers are responsible for the deaths of hundreds of people in Louisiana and thousands nationwide," Edmonson said. "These statistics would be worse were it not for the tireless efforts of law enforcement officers and others to remove impaired drivers from our roads. We are seeing some progress but we still have a long way to go in the battle against impaired driving."

Lt. Col. John LeBlanc, executive director of the Louisiana Highway Safety Commission, said Louisiana's efforts to reduce the number of DWI-related deaths and injuries involve commitments by a wide range officials and organizations.

"Any progress we are making in our impaired driving efforts is due to the work of many individuals and organizations," LeBlanc said. "These include legislators who write laws designed to protect us from drunk drivers, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, judges and many others. It's truly a team effort but the men and women who actually make the DWI arrests are on the front line and deserve great credit."

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 Dept. of Wildlife & Fisheries, Louisiana Sheriffs' Association, Louisiana Judicial Association, Louisiana District Attorneys Association, and Louisiana Association of Chiefs of Police.

The awards were presented to law enforcement officers for their diligence in arresting DWI violators. Judge John J. Molaison, Jr., who heads the special
DWI Treatment Court
in Jefferson Parish, was presented a special award for his commitment. DWI Treatment Courts provide constant supervision to offenders by judges and other court officials who closely administer and monitor compliance with court ordered sanctions coupled with treatment.

A special award was presented to District Attorney R. Christopher Nevils of the 8th Judicial District in Winn Parish for his leadership in DWI curtailment efforts, including establishment of "no refusal weekend" programs in Winn and some surrounding areas. He also has a "no dismissal" rule regarding DWI offenses. His efforts have dramatically lowered recidivism and fatality rates in his area.

Assistant District Attorney Robert Chevalier of the 16th Judicial District in Iberia Parish was presented a special award for his work to develop a system for handling DWI felony cases. Nearly all of the 22 felony DWI cases Chevalier prosecuted last year resulted in convictions. Some felony offenders were sentenced to jail time and/or entered a drug court program.

The following law enforcement agencies, officers, deputies, district attorneys and judge were presented awards for their extraordinary work in DWI enforcement.

Judge John J. Molaison, 24th JDC
R. Christopher Nevils, District Attorney, 8th JDC
Assistant D.A. Robert Chevalier, 16th JDC
Greenwood Police Dept.
West Monroe Police Dept.
Alexandria Police Dept.
Bossier Police Dept.
Lafayette Police Dept.
Baton Rouge Police Dept.
Plaquemines Sheriff Office
Lafourche Sheriff Office
Calcasieu Sheriff Office
Jefferson Sheriff Office
Louisiana Wildlife And Fisheries Dept. Region 7
CausewayBridge Police Dept.
LouisianaState Police Troop L
Grambling Police Dept.
Cpl. James Pugh, Franklinton Police Dept.
PFC James Cockrell, Bogalusa Police Dept.
Cpl. Jerrod King, Alexandria Police Dept.
Officer Steven Jones, Bossier Police Dept.
Officer Tommy Aphaiyarath, Lafayette Police Dept.

Officer John Walker, New Orleans Police Dept.
Corporal Troy Hughes, Grambling Police Dept.
Corporal Kenneth Camallo, Baton Rouge Police Dept.
Sgt. C.J. Beck, West Monroe Police Dept.
Sgt. David Mclean, Plaquemines Parish Sheriff Office
Sgt. Teddy Gonzales, Ascension Parish Sheriff Office
Deputy Joseph Anderson , Lafourche Parish Sheriff Office
Deputy Nicholas Wright , Jefferson Parish Sheriff Office
Trooper Kevin Cefalu, LouisianaState Police Troop L
Officer Charles D. Copeland, CausewayBridge Police Dept.
Sgt. Randy Lanoux, La. Dept. of Wildlife and Fisheries Region 7

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