A total of 644 DUI arrests in 2015 have made the Gulfport Police Department the top DUI municipality in Mississippi.
Gulfport police and others from South Mississippi received recognition this week in a statewide awards program recognizing the enforcement of DUI, seat-belt and child-restraint laws. They and others recognized are considered MS STARS. The annual awards are given by the Mississippi Department of Public Safety and the Mississippi Office of Highway Safety’s Public Planning Division.
Gulfport officer Blake Tucker was third in the state in DUI arrests. He wrote 324 citations.
Gulfport’s DUI officers typically are called to a scene when another officer suspects a driver is impaired. The DUI officers often initiate the traffic stops themselves, police Sgt. Damon McDaniel said.
Gulfport police Sgt. Josh Bromen placed fourth statewide for seat-belt and child-safety enforcement. He issued 555 seat-belt citations and 108 child-restraint citations.
Officers around the state typically are recognized as part of the 100 Club, 200 Club or 300 Club, based on their number of arrests or citations.
Bromen was off the chart.
The awards were given during a three-day training symposium in Biloxi.
Lucedale police Sgt. Tracy Dayton was honored for having the most DUI arrests during the Labor Day Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over campaign last year.
Biloxi and D’Iberville police officers also received awards, as well as deputies from Harrison, Hancock, George and Pearl River counties.
Elizabeth Foster, coordinator for Safe Kids in Lucedale and Greenwood, received a child-restraint award for public-safety efforts.
Other top awards
The DeSoto County Sheriff’s Office was named the top county in DUI arrests. The Mississippi Highway Patrol’s Troop F, based in New Albany, received the top DUI award among state troopers.
Top seat-belt awards by type of agency went to the Pearl Police Department, Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office and MHP’s Troop F.
The top child-restraint award went to the Brandon Police Department, Madison County Sheriff’s Office and MHP’s Troop D, based in Greenwood.
Drive sober campaign starts
Also during the symposium, officials kicked off the Labor Day Drive Sober campaign. Police, deputies and state troopers have beefed up their ranks to stop impaired and reckless drivers.
The traffic-safety campaign started Friday and runs through midnight Labor Day.
During the Labor Day period last year, 38 people died in crashes in Mississippi and 1,291 were injured.
Of 677 people killed in Mississippi crashes last year, 162 of the deaths, or 23.9 percent, were listed as alcohol-related, said state Public Safety Commissioner Albert Santa Cruz.
About 33 percent of fatal crashes nationwide involve drunk drivers, national statistics show.