Last updated: April 09. 2014 8:46AM - 376 Views
Margaret Brackett Contributing Columnist

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The S.C. Department of Public Safety recognized law enforcement officers April 2 for their efforts in 2013 to enforce the state’s DUI laws and remove impaired drivers from South Carolina roadways. The annual meeting was held at Seawalls in Columbia.

SCDPS presented awards to officers and agencies in several categories and held drawings for agencies to win equipment and vehicles during the ninth annual DUI I Enforcement Recognition and 2013 Law Enforcement DUI Challenge Ceremonies.

Jordan Hix, Public Affairs Manager, SCDPS: Office of Highway Safety and Justice Program, was Master of Ceremonies. He introduced the speaker, Leroy Smith, director of the SCDPS, with his special remarks that celebrate law enforcement and their successes:

You, the men and women of the SC Department of Safety, are the backbone in our fight against this terrible crime DUI and your efforts should be rewarded and recognized. We can count ourselves as fortunate to work in a field where we know that our successes aren’t just plaques on a wall — they translate into lives saved and families that will remain intact because you saved them from the hands of a drunk driver.

At the Department of Safety, strong enforcement of DUI is top priority for the Highway Patrol and State Transport Police. I want to thank our chiefs, sheriffs and other elected officials for your continued support of DPS and our Target Zero mission. You truly have a heart for highway safety. I am always honored to be joined by the family members of those lost because of the crime of DUI. Your presence shows a continued partnership and dedication to eradicating highway deaths and the senseless crime of driving under the influence. You have made it mission to make highways safer.

A day like today is important to give incentives to officers and departments going that extra mile in DUI enforcement. You have proved that you get results in the war against DUI, now, today with the help of our federal partners; we can equip you with the right tools.

I want to remind you why we are here today: About 41 percent of SC traffic fatalities in 2012 involved an impaired driver; More people died in 2012 from DUI-related collisions than due to murders in South Carolina; there were 340 murders and 358 DUI-related traffic fatalities! Now for some good news: For 2013, South Carolina is on track to show the second lowest number of overall fatalities in 50 years; this is only the third time in 50 years that SC fatalities have been fewer than 800.

From 2007 to 2012, SC experienced a 23 percent decrease in alcohol-related driving fatalities, according to NHSA data; In 2013, officers locked up over 27,000 impaired drivers who made a bad decision!

Our CROs are using:

DUI fatal vision goggles/golf cart and the Driving simulator to teach people about the deadly consequences of DUI.

Families of Highway fatalities members attend safety presentations with troopers to show the impact of DUI on families.

Our DHSJP office is pushing the Sober or Slammer message through paid media advertising on TV, radio, web, social media and print; Our target message is reaching citizens around the and nation.

We have seen progress, but I hope today will reinvigorate our officers to go back out there and settle for nothing less than zero-one community at a time; It is a noble goal—one we must strive for one day at a time; one life at a time.

The agencies that comprise our Law Enforcement Network are the backbone of South Carolina’s efforts. They go to work every day with the idea that it their family member they are protecting.

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