Law enforcement officers from across Mid-Missouri were honored during a ceremony Thursday night for going the extra mile in the effort to keep drunk drivers off the road.
Heroes for Heroes is a program sponsored by the Central Missouri Mothers Against Drunk Driving Chapter. It recognizes area law enforcement officers for their work to reduce drunken driving or for other drug enforcement.
The top honor — the Duane David Pace Memorial Award for “outstanding work stopping impaired driving on local roadways” — this year went to Sgt. Morgan Patterson who patrols Cole County for the Missouri Highway Patrol.
Robbie Pace-Cartwright is the volunteer leader for MADD Central Missouri. Her brother, Duane David Pace, was killed by a drunk driver May 13, 2002, while performing maintenance and sign work for MoDOT in Republic.
Pace-Cartwright said Patterson received the honor due to the amount of time he volunteers for MADD, and he is usually among the leaders in making DWI arrests.
“For me, DWI enforcement is the one thing we can do in law enforcement, at the right time, that has a direct impact on changing the outcome of someone’s night,” Patterson said. “So much of our job is being reactive, and by doing this, we believe, in our hearts, that we are preventing something bad from happening. Every DWI arrest I make I truly believe I’m saving someone’s life.”
Patterson’s mother was killed in a traffic crash when he was 12.
“I’ve always remembered that just being distracted is one thing, but being intoxicated is a different thing,” he said. “Driving is so difficult as it is. People take it for granted day in and day out. You would be crazy to mix alcohol into that situation.”
Other law enforcement officers who were honored Thursday night at West Ridge Event Center in Centertown included:
• Deputy Steven Verble — Boone County Sheriff’s Department
• Sgt. Donald Dame — Callaway Co. Sheriff’s Department
• Deputy Dave Barrett — Cole County Sheriff’s Department
• Officer Matthew Nichols — Columbia Police Department
• Officer Coltin McGowan — Holts Summit Police Department
• Officer Shawn Dumsday — Jefferson City Police Department
• Officer Brian Jackson — Fulton Police Department
• Officer Eric Gross — Lincoln University Police Department
• Deputy Weston Browner — Miller County Sheriff’s Department
• Cpl. William Barger — Vandalia Police Department
• Officer Nathan Sanchez — University of Missouri Police Department
• Trooper Grant Ayres — Highway Patrol Troop F, Boone County
• Trooper Timothy Fick — Highway Patrol Patrol Troop F, Miller County
• Trooper Nolan Bax — Highway Patrol Patrol Troop F, Callaway County
• Trooper Allison Enderle — Highway Patrol Patrol Troop F, Morgan County
• Trooper Spencer Sears — Highway Patrol Patrol Troop F, Moniteau County
• Trooper Andrew O’Brien — Highway Patrol Patrol Troop F, Osage County
• Trooper Matthew Accord — Highway Patrol Patrol Troop F, Camden County
MADD works with victims and their families to navigate the court system and deal with grief and loss. The organization also monitors courtrooms and annually reports on how individual courts and prosecutors are dealing with under-the-influence cases.
“I would like to say that MADD is not against alcohol, like most think,” Pace-Cartwright said. “We are against impaired driving under the influence of any alcohol and/or drugs — illegal or legal. We want our officers to know they have an ally behind them. They have families, too, and risk their lives every day.”