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MADD honors South County law officers

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MADD honors South County law officers

GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin Dan Chestnut, right, leader of Manteca Police's DUI team was recognized by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) with its "hero" award Saturday night in Sacramento. Sgt. Nic...

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POSTED April 20, 2009 12:43 a.m.
By GLENN KAHL
Staff reporter for the
Manteca (Calif.) Bulletin
SACRAMENTO - Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) had its annual statewide bash in Sacramento Saturday night -- honoring officers who had gone the extra mile to keep drunks off the highways.
Some 500 officers and family members filled the Sheraton Grand Hotel for the sit-down dinner. Blue and tan uniforms sported shoulder patches from countless departments.

DUI patrolmen from Manteca, Ripon, Lathrop and the area CHP took home their share of the awards. Agent Tim Kahl, who grew up in Ripon, also received one of MADD’s “hero” awards and his Chula Vista Police Department received the Law Enforcement Agency of the Year award.  Kahl heads up that DUI team and forged the state grants that made his department’s success possible.
MADD volunteers in many cases had lost loved ones themselves and the officers had gruesome memories of the dead and injured in the crashes they witnessed as first responders. Some 17,000 lives are lost to drinking and driving every year in the country.
You could feel it in the atmosphere of the room - you could hear it in the testimonials from the podium.  Everyone had been touched by death on the highways and they voiced their desires to continue making a difference in the future.
National president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving Laura Dean-Mooney traveled from Texas to attend the 2009 MADD California Law Enforcement and Community Recognition Event.

National MADD leader
loses husband to
DUI accident
She, too, told of her heartache that will never go away. A friend had come to her door to tell her of a major traffic accident - her husband had been killed. She was devastated for herself and for her nine month old daughter who would never see her father again. That was years ago and a central impetus to her joining MADD.
The MADD president also told of a drunk driver who was driving the wrong way on a two lane freeway section where he crested the bridge in a southbound direction meeting a northbound driver at the top of that bridge - everyone was killed.

That brought memories back of the same thing happening on Highway 99 years ago at French Camp Road.  A northbound driver crested the top of the bridge at the same time a southbound drunk reached the exact same spot. The driver of the northbound station wagon and his wife were killed -- two teen-aged daughters in the back were badly injured.
It was about midnight, The girls had already been transported to an area hospital.  The wrong way driver had come from the French Camp Road northbound onramp thinking he was entering a two-lane roadway. He chose to go south which in reality was the northbound fast lane. The drunk driver received only minor injuries.
So it was a night Saturday to honor those officers who continue in their effort to slow the onslaught on the highways by drunk drivers - many of whom are second and third offenders.  DUI’s are still just a misdemeanor until a driver is “caught” the fourth time - then it becomes a felony.
Officers gaining the “hero” award recognition from MADD included Dan Chestnut, Manteca PD; Stephen Meece, Ripon PD; Deputy Justin Millmore, Lathrop Police Services; and CHP officer Chris Sexton of the Stockton office of the California Highway Patrol.
Manteca’s Dan Chestnut was lauded for his work ethic by his sergeant Nick Obligacion.  He chooses the absolutely worst shift on graveyard where he produced over a third of all the DUI arrests in his department last year. Of the 302 department-wide DUI arrests for the year, Chestnut logged 108 of them, his sergeant said.  
“He has to be one of the most meticulous report writers in the department,” Obligacion said.  “He has an extremely high conviction rate.  He lost only one jury trial and that was with a driverless vehicle.”     
Ripon’s motorcycle traffic officer Stephen Meece was lauded as being very active with the San Joaquin MADD Community Action Site and he has led other officers in the education of equipment use.
Officer Meece assisted in creating educational material and helped to design and implement a high school DUI crash program. He has logged 40 DUI arrests for the year compared to other officers’ highs of 25 in the history of the department.
Lathrop’s Justin Millmore was credited with making 25 percent of his department’s DUI arrests while handling his normal radio traffic  on routine patrol.  
His supervisors spoke well of his “high level of enthusiasm, energy and work ethic,” along with his commitment to excellence.
CHP’s Chris Sexton was lauded for personally arresting 122 drivers from driving under the influence during the last year - with an “outstanding” work ethic. He is credited as being an active and productive member of the highway patrol’s Valley Division Rapid Apprehension of Impaired Drivers (RAID) team and has participated in several Start Smart programs designed for new teen drivers.
One of the grants that helped propel Kahl’s Chula Vista department into winning the agency of the year honors was funded by the Office of Traffic Safety(OTS).
 It was an effort between all the South Bay agencies in San Diego dedicating a highly experienced and specialized deputy district attorney to prosecute the more difficult and serious misdemeanor and felony DUI cases.
These cases would involve two or more prior DUI convictions,  and first time offender cases involving injury - allowing separate agencies to work together to combat drinking and driving offenders.
To date the grant has supported five operations that have reportedly totaled 35 DUI arrests, one DUI warrant arrest and one drug arrest. Some 17 arrests made in the city of Coronado in just two nights - more than the DUI arrests made on a regular basis in the entire month.
Since the first of 2009 there have been some 35 DUI offenders booked into the Chula Vista jail with a prior conviction. The district attorney assigned to the grant has obtained 64 cases from the agencies involved including 34 felony cases, 22 misdemeanor cases and eight still being reviewed.
Nineteen offenders have plead guilty - 13 felony and six misdemeanor convictions. The average time offenders have “plead out” is to three years.

    

    
    



    

    

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