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ASAP recognizes law enforcement

Fifteen law enforcement officers were recognized for their work to keep drunk drivers off the Heart of Virginia’s roadways by the Piedmont Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) recently.

The event, held at the Farmville Train Station on Dec. 15, is in its 19th year of honoring deputies with sheriff’s offices, officers with town and university departments and troopers with Virginia State Police (VSP).

Among those honored were Robert E. Ragland, of the Farmville Police Department; Chris M.  Joyner, of the Prince Edward County Sheriff’s Office; Matthew Gills, of the Longwood University Police Department; Gavin T. Lee, a state trooper who works in Buckingham; Benjamin S. Davis, a state trooper who works in Cumberland; and Todd Farris, a state trooper who works in Prince Edward County.

According to VSP spokeswoman Corinne Geller, the men were recognized for their outstanding commitment to DUI prevention and detection.

The law enforcement officers were awarded for ticketing at least five drunk drivers during the year.

“We applaud these people,” said Robyn Allen, director of Piedmont ASAP. “It takes between 4-6 hours to process a DUI. That is more than half their shift. And if they process one DUI, they have very little time left to do anything else.”

“It’s protecting my family, your family,” said retired VSP trooper and ASAP Law Enforcement Liaison Allen Ross Jr., who welcomed the crowd to the train station. “And also protecting the folks (who are) drunk. Saving those lives too, getting them off the road.”

Ross presented the awards alongside Douglas Randolph, who serves on the Piedmont ASAP Board of Directors.

“It’s just another life or mine saved by an officer by getting a drunk driver off the road,” Ross said.

VSP Third Division Capt. Craig Worsham offered the keynote address.

According to Ross, the awards show the officers and troopers that their supervisors “back them … We’ve got some of the same people coming back each year,” he said of those receiving the awards.

Mothers Against Drunk Drivers (MADD) and Nationwide Insurance joined on as sponsors of the event, which was held as part of National Drunk and Drugged Driving Awareness Month.

ASAP is one of the initiatives of the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program — known as VASAP — intended to improve highway safety by decreasing occurrences of driving under the influence of alcohol and other drugs. VASAP uses education, counseling and referral services to help people who have been arrested for drunk driving.

According to MADD, on average, every two minutes, a person is injured in drunk driving crash. Two in three people, in their lifetime, will be involved in a drunk driving crash. On average, everyday in America, 27 people die as a result of drunk driving crashes.

“It’s a hard job,” Allen said. “And it takes a lot of time to process. They do it, not only because it’s their job, but because, ultimately they save lives.”