MPD Bestows "DUI Awards"

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According to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, roughly three in 10 Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related vehicle crash at some time in their lives.

Nine Meridian police officers were recognized Wednesday for their efforts in the fight against drunk driving.

"Everybody should show their appreciation to these officers for what they do and show that they appreciate that they are making our streets safer," said Brenda Snowden of Lauderdale County's MADD chapter.

The officers recognized had exceptionally high drunk driving arrests, ranging from 26 to 72. It's an offense these officers are taking seriously.

"A drunk driver is just like a serious killer, an armed robbery suspect," said Ofc. Dareall Thompson. "He can be dangerous also."

"It gets rough out there. A lot of times drunk drivers feel they can get away and want to run. We have to chase them down," said Ofc. Anthony Hall.

In 2003, the state of Mississippi had 320 alcohol-related traffic deaths. Nationwide, the number was over 17,000. For every DUI arrest these officers make, they could be saving a life.

"One DUI crash fatality has an impact that just keeps 'spiderwebbing' out in all directions," said Capt. Rick McCary of the Meridian Police Department.

"You have all these programs, you have things on TV, you see it in the paper, where people are getting arrested. They know it's going to cost them money to go to court. It costs them time. It costs the court's time. It costs them money. It's unnecessary," said Ofc. Bill Cantwell.

Last year, Meridian had four traffic fatalities. Alcohol contributed to two of the deaths.