July 16th, 2024

LPS Traffic Response Unit recognized for keeping impaired drivers off the road


By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on October 12, 2023.

Herald photo by Alejandra Pulido-Guzman Members of the Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit Cst. Brent Paxman, Cst. Jason Roth, Cst. Shaun McCarthy, Cst. Mike Dowsley, Cst. Jack Krysztofiak and Sgt. Danny Lomness were recognized for their efforts in removing impaired drivers off the road, Wednesday afternoon at the police station.

LETHBRIDGE HERALDapulido@lethbridgeherald.com

The Lethbridge Police Service Traffic Response Unit was recognized for their efforts to keep impaired drivers off the road during a ceremony Wednesday afternoon at the police station.

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) Lethbridge and Area chapter and LPS honoured the officers within the Traffic Response Unit (TRU) with recognition as recipients of the Cpl. Cumming’s Watch award.

The Cpl. Cumming’s Watch is named in honour of Cpl. Graeme Cumming, a member of the RCMP who was killed on duty by an impaired driver while attending a traffic incident on Highway 3 near Lethbridge on Aug. 12, 1998. The program is a collaborative effort between Alberta RCMP, MADD Canada and Alberta Transportation to support police efforts in the detection and apprehension of impaired drivers on Alberta roadways.

The entire team of officers who are part of the TRU received either a gold or silver challenge coin based on the number of impaired drivers they charged.

During the ceremony it was noted that this was the first time the entire TRU was honoured with the award.

MADD president and victim support volunteer Anita Huchala spoke to media after the ceremony and explained the different levels of recognition.

“The silver level award is for catching and charging 15 to 24 impaired drivers and then anything above that is the gold,” said Huchala.

Two of the five officers who are part of the TRU received gold and the remaining three received silver.

• Cst. Brent Paxman received a gold challenge coin for 35 impaired drivers charged.

• Cst. Mike Dowsley received a gold challenge coin for 32 impaired drivers charged.

• Cst. Shaun McCarthy received a silver challenge coin for 23 impaired drivers charged.

• Cst. Jason Roth received a silver challenge coin for 19 impaired drivers charged.

•Cst. Jack Krysztofiak received a silver challenge coin for 17 impaired drivers charged.

Huchala told media the fact that the entire unit was being recognized was both a good and a bad thing.

“It is alarming the numbers that they are catching, but it’s also comforting because those are people that they’re taking off the road before they cause a crash that could kill or injure somebody,” said Huchala.

She said she felt like a proud mother when recognizing the entire unit as she has been working alongside the TRU through various events.

“I think it shows that the police are trying to make our roadways, waterways, even off roading safe for everybody, keeping those impaired drivers off of those roadways and keeping everybody safe. However, I think we also need to continue to relay that message that don’t drive impaired,” said Huchala.

She said the awards are based on the impaired drivers charged in 2022 since the count is within a calendar year.

Cst. Brent Paxman spoke to media and said the award means a lot to the team since Cst. Cumming was based out of Lethbridge and killed by an impaired driver while on duty just outside the city.

 “It’s something that we talk about, we strive for every year. I mean, we don’t reach this award every year, and so for all five of us to get this award on the same calendar year, honestly it was a great achievement by all of us and it was a good team effort. We all worked together and helped each other get this, but essentially what it means is we got some impaired drivers off the road and then we’re proud of that,” said Paxman.

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