ODOT HONORS OFFICERS

November 05, 2001 11:00 pm
SAFER ROADS: Union Police Officers Ronetta Prince and Tony Humphries are among 11 Oregon officers recognized by transportation officials for work at getting dangerous drivers off the highways. Senior OSP Trooper Jon Thornton of La Grande was also honored. (The Observer/T.L. PETERSEN).
SAFER ROADS: Union Police Officers Ronetta Prince and Tony Humphries are among 11 Oregon officers recognized by transportation officials for work at getting dangerous drivers off the highways. Senior OSP Trooper Jon Thornton of La Grande was also honored. (The Observer/T.L. PETERSEN).

By The Observer

Eleven Oregon police officers including three from Union County were recently recognized by the Oregon Department of Transportation for their work in protecting those who use the states roads.

The awards were presented to recognize officers for Looking Beyond the Traffic Ticket during the Transportation Safety Conference last month in Bend.

The award-winners are nominated by their supervisors and others involved with traffic safety and come from all branches of law enforcement.

Union Police Chief Dean Muchow was pleased when Officers Ronetta Prince and Tony Humphries won recognition in the Routine Stop/Motorist Assist

category.

The award, ODOT explains, recognizes officers who performed a routine traffic or motorist assist stop and developed probable cause to look beyond the ticket and uncover evidence of a serious crime.

As Prince and Humphries explain it, earlier this year they got a call of a possible drunk driver heading into Union along Highway 203.

The officers located the car as it pulled into a business, then watched as the driver and passenger switched positions. They were suspicious of the twos actions, they said, and continued to watch the couple.

After seeing both people in the car drive, they pulled them over.

Prince said the two acted as if they were under the influence, but there wasnt a strong odor of

alcohol.

Prince and Humphries took the two suspects to the county jail and asked a drug recognition expert to evaluate them. Both people had failed the field sobriety tests, and both failed the drug evaluation.

It was determined that the two were under the influence of narcotics medication that was prescribed for one of the suspects elderly ill mother. The woman was supposed to have been getting the medication hourly.

Prince said the arrest led Prince and Humphries to follow up on the elderly womans condition. That led to an investigation of elder abuse.

For Senior Trooper Jon Thornton of the Oregon State Police in La Grande, who was recognized for his work in the Dangerous Driver category, the incident occurred in August.

In this category, officers were recognized for conducting a traffic stop that leads to the apprehension of a particularly dangerous driver.

That description fit the man who tried to drive through a work zone along Interstate 84 at high speeds.

Thornton had to pursue the reckless driver as he sped up toward the work zone and then passed two slower-moving vehicles in the right lane, ran over several of the cones laid out in the reduce-to-one-lane area, and narrowly missed the advance variable message sign.

The driver continued into the work zone and almost struck Thorntons patrol car. There were ODOT workers in the roadway who narrowly got out of the drivers way.

Thornton had to pursue the driver for about a mile. The motorist pulled over and was cited for reckless endangerment of a highway worker.

Other Oregon officers recognized for their efforts in the Safety Advocate category were Trooper Bill Mr. Seatbelt Vanderberg, OSP, and Officer Michael Villant, Portland Police Bureau.

Honorees in the Routine Stop category, in addition to Prince and Humphries, were Trooper Jamin VanMeter, OSP-John Day, Deputies Kelli Nou and Derek Trombla, Yamhill County Sheriffs Office, Officer Tom Larson, Portland Police Bureau and Officer Larry Prince, Redmond Police Department.

Also awarded in the Dangerous Driver category was Officer Pat Keating of the Portland Police Bureau.