Of the 25 Illinois officers honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, two were Grundy County sheriff’s deputies.
Sgt. Josh Slattery and Deputy Darren Roach were recognized as MADD Heroes last weekend at an awards ceremony held in Springfield.
MADD honored and recognized law enforcement, media, volunteers and individuals who have made safe roads a No. 1 priority and do their part to support the elimination of drunken driving, according to madd.org.
“I was thrilled,” Slattery said. “(Roach) didn’t see it in his mailbox, and I was so excited for both of us, I ran it out on the road to get it to him.
“Especially working midnights, you don’t get thanked very much, so this was nice.”
MADD had about 90 nominations for the award, Slattery said. Last year, Grundy Deputy Greg Butterfield was recognized.
Grundy County Sheriff Kevin Callahan nominated Slattery and Roach because of their dedication.
“They go out every night committed to keeping the roads safe and getting drunk drivers off the roads,” Callahan said.
“They are two guys who are really focused on enforcing the DUI laws.”
Roach said in a small community like Grundy County, alcohol-related charges are a predominant issue.
Roach has been with the sheriff’s office for 12 years.
And for 10 years before that, he was a paramedic, so he is familiar with both the legal and physical consequences of driving while drunk.
“I know from not only arresting people, but from taking people to the hospital and seeing how the families are affected,” Roach said. “I think that is what drives me the most.”
For Slattery, it is what he has witnessed that keeps him committed to finding drunken drivers.
Slattery was driving home from the rehearsal dinner for his wedding in 2008 when he drove by the accident in which the Jahn family from Dwight was killed.
Josh Jahn was waiting for his wife, Mandy, and their two children to come home when they were killed after a drunken driver blew a stop sign while driving at least 68 mph and crashed into Mandy’s car.
Jahn’s wife, 3-year-old son, Ryan, and 11-month-old daughter, Kaitlyn, were all killed.
On another night, he was working and was forced off the road by a drunken driver.
“I was on 47 and forced into a ditch,” Slattery said. “Luckily, it was a shallow ditch and I was able to turn right around and arrest the guy for DUI.”
Both officers ask all of their offenders the same thing when they pull them over for suspected DUI: “If you had a young child, your kid, a niece or nephew, would you feel safe driving with them in the car?”
About 99 percent of the time, they tell the truth and say no, Roach said.
“I’m proud of their efforts, and it shows our office is committed to enforcing DUI laws and keeping the roads safe,” Callahan said.
For more information on Mothers Against Drunk Driving, visit madd.org.