The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department earned the Middle Tennessee Law Enforcement Network Outstanding Performance Award Monday evening in recognition of its commitment and dedication to enhancing safety on the county’s highways.
The network is part of Tennessee’s Law Enforcement Liaison (LEL) program, a federally funded initiative established in 1998 by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office (THSO) on the recommendation of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Included in the Middle Tennessee network are 23 counties, each of which were vying for the recognition, presented by Tony Burnett during last week’s meeting of Middle Tennessee Law Enforcement Network held in Murfreesboro.
“This is a great honor for our department,” said Lincoln County Sheriff Murray Blackwelder. “This recognition demonstrates that our commitment to getting impaired drivers off the road is producing positive results.
“We continue to be committed to providing law enforcement, corrections, and criminal justice services through a partnership with the community and the state that builds trust, reduces crime, creates a safe environment, and enhances the quality of life for our citizens.”
The Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department has earned multiple Impaired Driver Initiative grants for alcohol enforcement in support of the mission to save lives and reduce injuries on Tennessee roadways through leadership, innovation, coordination and program support in partnership with numerous public and private organizations.
Statistics show that increased enforcement, thanks to those grants and the department’s initiative, are making an impact. From Jan. 1, 2016 to Nov. 1, 2016, the sheriff’s department made 121 DUI arrests. In 2017, from Jan. 1 through Sept. 30, arrests climbed to 183.
“That’s a 51 percent increase in DUI arrests,” said Sandy Metcalf, a member of the sheriff’s staff here. “These figures demonstrate that impaired drivers are being identified and arrested.”
In addition, figures show that the number of alcohol-related fatalities here in Lincoln County are down significantly – “The number of fatal crashes have decreased by 51 percent,” Metcalf said, going on to explain that the county had eight in the previous grant year and four this year.
Alcohol-related crashes have also decreased tremendously, from 37 in the 2015-16 grant year to 13 in the 2016-17 grant year.
“These results demonstrate that our department’s commitment to getting DUI offenders off the roadway is working,” said Blackwelder. “In addition to enforcement, a great deal of our efforts are also focused on education – we want to prevent persons who have taken a drink from getting behind the wheel and taking someone’s life or causing serious injury to others.”
To that end, each of the Lincoln County Sheriff’s Department’s deputies are also certified ARIDE certified, meaning they have successfully completed Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement training.