‘Alexa’s Team’ honoured for catching impaired drivers

Kelowna RCMP officers and auxiliary constables were honoured Thursday for removing hundreds of impaired drivers from local roads last year.

Laurel Middelaer congratulates RCMP officers who were named 2012 Alexa's Team members Thursday. Middelaer's daughter

Seventeen Kelowna RCMP officers and two auxiliary constables were honoured at Aberdeen Hall School Thursday for removing hundreds of impaired drivers from local roads last year.

They are the newest members of Alexa’s Team.

On May 17, 2008, a vehicle left a residential road in Delta and struck two pedestrians, a parked vehicle and finally came to rest on a power pole. One of the pedestrians was Alexa Middelaer. She died of her injuries.

Alexa’s Team was formed in 2008 in memory of the four-year-old with the aim to make B.C.’s roads safer.

The initiative seems to be doing its job.

The number of fatalities related to impaired driving was 126 in 2010. It dropped to 73 in 2011, and preliminary data for 2012 estimates a historic low of 59.

But Const. Brad Smith—an all-star team member, who took more than 34 criminally impaired drivers off the road last year—challenged his fellow officers to raise the bar.

“Challenge yourself to do more,” Smith told officers during the ceremony.

“You’ve done an admirable job at keeping the roads safe, but let’s do more this year. More than we have ever done before; let’s continue to drive the number of impaired crashes down.”

The 19 Kelowna constables and auxiliary constables honoured Thursday were each nominated for their ability to take at least 12 impaired drivers off the road through a criminal charge investigation or through an administrative driving prohibition in 2012.

Alexa’s Team members province-wide have removed more than 41,000 impaired drivers from the road since 2008. During that time the number of Alexa’s Team members has grown from 26 to about 1,000.

Laurel Middelaer, mother of Alexa, said Mounties’ efforts have led to “unprecedented reductions” in fatalities caused by impaired drivers.

“This event is about celebrating actions. It’s about recognizing those who act and do, rather than those who just say and think. It’s about those people who truly walk the talk to ensure we have public safety each and every day,” said Middelaer.

In January, Statistics Canada indicated Kelowna had more police-reported impaired driving incidents in 2011 than any other city in the country.

wpaterson@kelownacapnews.com

 

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