Calvert holiday campaign against drunk driving

The Calvert County commissioners on Tuesday saluted local law enforcement officers with the most DUI arrests for the first 10 months of 2019.

On Tuesday, Calvert County leaders paused to recognize the top law enforcement officers of 2019 involved with a key component to local public safety. The six sheriff’s office deputies and five troopers assigned to the Maryland State Police Prince Frederick Barrack earned their salutes for their statistics — a combined 185 driving under the influence of alcohol arrests for the first 10 months of the year.

The officers honored at the weekly meeting of the Calvert County commissioners (with their 2019 arrest totals) were — from the sheriff’s office Dfc. Robert Shrawder (26), Deputy James Flynt (22), Deputy Branden Deleon (20), Deputy Elizabeth Payne (15), Deputy Michael Lewis Jr. (14) and Deputy Bruce Sampson (14); from the MSP’s local barrack Tfc. William Costello (20), Trooper Alvin Kelly (18), Tfc. Phillip Kaitz, Tfc. Thomas Davis (15) and Trooper Aaron Fraser (15).

According to Calvert Alliance Against Substance Abuse Executive Board Vice President Kristen DePhillip, since Nov. 1, there have been over 500 DUI arrests in Calvert.

The added risk of more drivers who are impaired by alcohol rises significantly in December with holiday season celebrations. In a proactive move that is several year’s old, CAASA sponsors a countywide impaired driving prevention campaign through the day after New Year’s.

In addition to the warnings about the dangers and consequences of drunk driving, the focus of the campaign is the promotion of the county’s designated driver program.

In a proclamation the commissioners presented to CAASA, it was stated the local designated driver campaign “provides a unique opportunity for Calvert County restaurants, clubs, bars and civic/service organizations to join forces with county residents in promoting cooperative, impaired driving prevention efforts.”

“We’re not seeing as many people dying in drunk driving crashes in Calvert,” Sheriff Mike Evans (R) told The Calvert Recorder during a telephone interview.

Of Calvert’s seven motor vehicle fatalities in 2019, only one was determined to be alcohol-related. Three of the fatalities are still under investigation.Evans said the patrol deputies and troopers “are taking people off our roadways” who drink and drive.

“What you’re doing every day is saving lives,” Calvert Commissioners’ Vice President Kelly McConkey (R) told the officers. “It’s just amazing.”

“I applaud these troopers and deputies and the results that they collectively put forth,” said MSP Prince Frederick Barrack Commander Jimmie Meurrens in a statement emailed to The Calvert Recorder. “Many lives were saved by their diligent and focused efforts. The work that these men and women do in the area of DUI enforcement on a daily basis is absolutely instrumental in ensuring that our roadways here in Calvert County are safe for all to travel. There isn’t a much more gut-wrenching experience from a law enforcement perspective than to knock on a door knowing that you are about to deliver news to a family that a loved one is not coming home and that they were killed in a collision involving impaired driving. I’ve had to do that before. It’s horrible. A deadly alcohol or drug-related collision is senseless and based on selfish actions. Everyone must recognize that it‘s completely preventable.”

Both Evans and Meurrens have confirmed that the local police agencies will conduct special traffic patrols during the holiday.

Evans said in addition to road patrols, deputies will be highly visible in the county’s shopping centers.

“Increased DUI enforcement remains a significant goal of the Prince Frederick Barrack and one that we have and will continue to work tirelessly on,” Meurrens stated. “Although we routinely conduct targeted DUI enforcement in conjunction with the sheriff’s office, there will be increased saturation patrols throughout the holiday season. I caution anyone who chooses to get behind the wheel of a vehicle while impaired.”

Twitter: @CalRecMARTY