Red Deer Mounties are tracking down impaired drivers, and the three officers with the most charges laid were honoured on Wednesday for their commitment to safer roadways.
The Red Deer RCMP have laid 144 impaired driving charges so far this year and are on pace to top last year, when 249 individuals were charged with impaired driving.
“Impaired driving is one of our major priorities,” said Cpl. Matt LaBelle, Red Deer RCMP traffic services team leader. “We’ve focused a lot of energy, efforts, resources, increased our training and put emphasis on detecting, apprehending and charging impaired drivers.”
Const. Liam Shiels, Const. Stephen Hiscocks and Const. Shane Mykyte were all recognized for their high volume of impaired driving investigations that led to charges. They were bestowed with the Cpl. Cumming Award, which recognizes officers who lay 15 or more impaired driving charges in a year.
The award is named after Cpl Graeme Cumming, an RCMP member killed in the line of duty by an impaired driver on Hwy 3 near Lethbridge in 1998.
The three officers honoured on Wednesday accounted for 25 per cent of the detachment’s impaired driving charges laid in 2014 and 39 per cent of the impaired driving charges laid so far in 2015.
Shiels had the highest number of the group with 27 impaired driving charges laid in 2014. Of those, 22 were laid against individuals with a blood alcohol content over 0.08, three impaired by drugs and two refusals to provide a breath sample.
“Any time I’m able to detect an impaired driver and charge them, I feel I may have saved a life that night,” said Shiels.
“I’ve been to enough fatals where impaired drivers are involved.”
The seven-year RCMP veteran is on pace to arrest more impaired drivers in 2015, charging 26 so far this year.
Mykyte had 15 impaired charges in 2014, 11 of which were over 0.08 blood alcohol content, three impaired by drugs and one refusal to provide a breath sample. So far in 2015, Mykyte has charged eight individuals with impaired driving.
Hiscocks had 21 impaired charges in 2014, 16 of which were over 0.08 blood alcohol content and five refusals to provide a breath sample. In 2015, Hiscocks has charged 22 individuals with impaired driving.
“They are dedicated to improving road safety,” said LaBelle. “Those members are all highly trained, they’re part of a specialized unit and they’re focus, especially on those Friday and Saturday nights, is to go out there and apprehend impaired drivers.”
A variety of techniques are used to catch impaired drivers, including public tips, checkstops and vehicle patrols.
“It takes a very dedicated person with a high level of expertise in that field,” said Insp. Heidi Wild of RCMP operational support. “These members have arrested and charged so many impaired drivers and have such a high success rate in court it is a testament how hard they work and how well they do their job.”