Law enforcement officials from all over San Diego County were on hand Wednesday afternoon for an awards ceremony commemorating officers and deputies with the most DUI arrests in 2010.
The top honors went to Deputy David Toner, an 18-year veteran who works the night shift in the Encinitas Sheriff’s station. Toner made 187 DUI arrests last year, the highest number in the county, one more than Officer James Zirpolo of the San Diego Police Department Traffic Division.
Toner credited his success in getting drunken drivers off the road to paying attention to how a vehicle is being operated.
“I don’t know if there are any special skills,” Toner said. “Maybe it’s more like attention to detail, watching vehicles as you’re driving behind them to see if they’re weaving back and forth in the lanes, stop sign violations, even equipment violations.”
The devastating impact that drunken drivers can inflict upon families was shared by Kristine Costa, whose husband Eddie was killed by an impaired driver in December 2008 as he rode his bike in Alpine.
“It has been a little over two years since I lost my best friend. My heart is still broken and the pain is still so real,” Costa said. “Not a day goes by in which I am not constantly reminded of Eddie, especially because of our two boys, Austin, who is 12, and Carter, who is here today, who is 5.”
In years past, police chiefs have given the top DUI officers and deputies their awards, but this year Costa presented the plaques.
“I think what we’ll do is just have Kristine award our officers today and let them look into the eyes of why they do what they do,” said master of ceremonies Marc Bailey.
Among those honored were Century Award winners, with 100 or more DUI arrests, including Deputy Brenda Wiebe of the Encinitas station, 108 arrests; and Deputy Felix Santiesteban of the Lemon Grove station, 103 arrests.
Other award recipients include:
- Deputy Aaron Meleen of the Poway station, 64 arrests.
- Deputy Rob Siegfried of the Imperial Beach station, 87 arrests.
- Deputy Laura Shands of the Santee station, 49 arrests.
- Officer Lillie Chase of the La Mesa Police Department Traffic Division.
- Officer Ryan Rogers of the La Mesa Police Department, 42 arrests.
- Jim Callaway, Yvonne Callaway, Paul Grant, Ed Ozmun, Michael Wright and Janet Young, senior volunteer patrols for the sheriff’s station in Poway who work at DUI checkpoints.
- Officer Robbie Snider of the Carlsbad Police Department, 63 arrests.
- Officer Aaron Mansker of the Coronado Police Department, 44 arrests.
The ceremony was held at the Town and Country Resort Hotel in Mission Valley and was attended by San Diego Sheriff Bill Gore, San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne and more than 100 officers and deputies in uniform. Representing the California Office of Traffic Safety was Assistant Director of Operations David Doucette, and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration was represented by Regional Administrator David Manning.