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February 14, 2012 > AVOID THE 21


Submitted By Jan Ford

Avoid the 21, Alameda County's multi-jurisdictional effort against impaired drivers, honored 135 police officers, California Highway Patrol officers and sheriff's deputies for their DUI expertise on Wednesday, February 8, at an advanced training seminar in Fremont.

The event was sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the California Office of Traffic Safety, which funds Avoid the 21 through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Alameda County Sheriff's Deputy Keith Gilkerson won the "Dunny Award" for excellence. It is named after Sgt. Mark Dunakin of the Oakland Police Dept., an active and enthusiastic Avoid the 21 participant, said Sgt. John Hurd of the Livermore police. Dunakin died in 2009 in the line of duty along with three other OPD officers.

CHP officers from the county's four area commands made up 72 percent of those who received plaques and uniform pins. Sheriff's deputies followed with 14 percent. The remainder of honored officers were from police agencies throughout the county.

Two deputies and four CHP officers had DUI arrest totals above 90 for 2010. They are Deputy David McKaig with 129, Officer Robert Koehn with 106, Deputy Shawn Osborne with 99, Officer Kevin White with 97, Officer Jon Bacon with 94 and Officer Barrett Adams with 90.

"This county is fortunate indeed to have such a large group of great DUI officers," said Lt. Ava Garavatti of the Livermore police, who chairs Avoid the 21.

"They work in the middle of the night and spend their holidays combating impaired driving. They develop a specific expertise to identify and classify impairment. Great DUI officers have the expertise to create a rapport with someone who is under the influence and likely to change moods without warning," she explained.

Avoid the 21 will hit the streets again for Cinco De Mayo and St. Patrick's Day, two occasions that many people celebrate with alcohol.

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