CPL. CHRIS SWAIN: Tragedies inspire RCMP to target impaired drivers

Officers take drinking drivers off our roads in hopes of reducing the number of tragedies they see

As with many of my colleagues, I have witnessed the trauma and carnage that impaired driving brings to families and communities.

I can’t count how many fatal collisions I have attended, many of those having been caused by impaired driving.  The things nobody should have to witness I have seen. The things nobody should have to do, I have had to do.

I have investigated two infant fatalities within six months of each other, both caused by impaired driving. One mother was convinced that she was responsible for her daughter’s death because she had improperly installed the infant car seat, rather than placing the blame where it really belonged which was with the impaired driver that caused the accident in the first place.

Telling another mother that both her teenaged twin girls were involved in a crash caused by impaired driving and giving the heartbreaking news that one lived and the other had died was one of the most difficult things I have had to do as a police officer.

This is the reality of impaired driving. It takes so many precious loved ones from us, yet people continue to drink and drive every day. I applaud the efforts of everyone that is attempting to take a stand against impaired driving, from legislators, parents and victim groups, to the officers on the street right down to the person that witnesses these crimes.

Recently, officers across British Columbia were honoured for each removing more than 12 impaired drivers off of our roadways. They were chosen to be part of Alexa’s Team recognized for their contributions in keeping our streets safe. Being part of Alexa’s team is a way individual officers are recognized for their work in remembrance of Alexa Middelaer who was killed by an impaired driver. In 2011 Alexa’s Team members in British Columbia removed 12,923 impaired drivers from our roads. These 355 officers have truly done something to be proud of and this number is outstanding, considering how many lives were potentially saved.

Rest assured that impaired driving is a priority for us at the Sidney North Saanich, detachment and remains a policing priority in British Columbia. All of our officers work hard to apprehend impaired drivers and get them off of our roads. In speaking for all of our officers, we want to try our best to ensure that the trauma that was brought to the Middelaer family and  to so many others,  doesn’t come knocking on your door as well.

Cpl. Chris Swain is a supervisor and the media liaison officer for Sidney North Saanich RCMP.