Deputy honored

Floyd County K9 Deputy Justin Szymchack poses with his “best friend” Drago. Szymchack was honored this month for his work to target impaired drivers.

A Floyd County Sheriff’s deputy was honored by the state last week.

The Kentucky Office of Highway Safety honored K9 Deputy Justin Szymchack alongside more than 200 law enforcement officers from more than 180 agencies across the Commonwealth for  efforts to target impaired drivers. 

The 2019 Governor’s Impaired Driving Enforcement Awards ceremony was held at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Lexington. Awards were presented to officers with the most impaired-driving arrests in each agency and Highway Safety All-Star awards were presented to the top three in each division. 

“Today is more than just receiving an award,” said KOHS Acting Director Jason Siwula. 

“It is about saving lives and that is what officers do every time they arrest an impaired driver.”

Szymchack did not attend the ceremony as he was undergoing training in Tennessee. He was also honored with this award in 2018, and, this year, he was the only Floyd County law enforcement official recognized at the event. 

According to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System, last year in Kentucky, there were 4,742 crashes related to impaired driving, resulting in 2,415 injuries and 124 deaths. This represented an across the board decrease compared to 2017’s 5,350 reported crashes related to impaired driving, resulting in 2,781 injuries and 154 deaths.

“Impaired driving is 100 percent preventable,” said Siwula. “While we’re pleased with the decrease, one death is too many. Our office will continue to support law enforcement efforts to remove impaired drivers from our roads, including providing federal funds for additional enforcement during this holiday season.”

The KOHS, Kentucky State Police and local law enforcement agencies are partnering for the Drive Sober or Get Pulled Over holiday enforcement campaign. 

Officers will be out Dec. 13 through Jan. 1, 2020 watching for any moving hazardous violation, with an emphasis on impaired driving. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration funds the campaign and reports high-visibility enforcement reduces impaired driving fatalities by as much as 20 percent.

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