Mandi Childers of the Coolidge Arizona Police Department was selected as the School Resource Officer of the Year at the Arizona School Resource Officers Association 2019 Annual Conference. She attended the Impact Teen Drivers What Do You Consider Lethal? Train the Trainer in Tucson in January 2018 sponsored by the Arizona State Troopers Association and Impact Teen Drivers.
Congratulations Mandi! Thanks for making a difference.
Here are a few snap shots.
Arizona School Resource Officers Annual Conference
April was Distracted Driving Awareness month. As we begin the month of May, we enter the 100 deadliest days for young drivers. With the school year winding down, teens find themselves celebrating all the end of the year events such as graduation, prom, and having the ability to stay out later. Combining the inexperience of newer drivers, with the increased risk of young drivers being out more often, contributes to this deadly combination.
Young drivers often feel invincible and allow themselves to be placed in risky situations. This with their inexperience can lead to erratic behaviors, lack of confidence, or overcorrecting. The past few months, members of the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Walmart, Banner Health, Look Save A Life, the Pima County Health Department, Impact Teen Drivers, and AZTroopers (the Arizona State Troopers Association) have been combining their resources to make an impact of teens in Southern Arizona.
The Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Unit at DPS has teamed up with Walmart to bring a Tractor Trailer to schools so students can get in the cab and see all the blind spots around the Semi. This allows young drivers to be more aware of their position when traveling in and around semis on the interstate. Young drivers assume the semi drivers can see and fail to recognize most of the time, the driver can’t see them with the mirrors that are required by law. Students gain a new awareness when driving near the larger vehicles. Troopers from the Highway Patrol Division, have spent time educating students on the restrictions of driver’s licenses, and what to expect from a traffic stop. Local resources available like the Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation START program allows young drivers to get hands on experience from Law Enforcement Driving Instructors in the Tucson area.
The Pima County Health Department and Banner Health have been instrumental in providing information related to injury prevention, seatbelt usage, properly installing car seats, and the overall health of young drivers. The health department has a number of programs and studies happening in local schools. Since Distracted Driving is the number one reason of death in young people, and it is preventable schools are often eager to allow us the opportunity to share either through their health classes or through their public safety education classes. Local on-profit groups like LOOK SAVE A LIFE allows victims of distracted driving to share their story and the steps they’ve had to take to recover from their injuries after being struck by a car with a distracted driver while riding their bicycle.
Attached are pictures from recent events in the Tucson area where collaboration efforts have provided engaging education opportunities to empower young people to make good decisions every time they get in a vehicle. Although May through the first part of August is usually the most deadly for young drivers, we want to encourage our teens to make good decisions every time they get in a car either as a driver or passenger. Make a commitment today to drive without distractions. Visit aztroopers.org/impact-teen-drivers and take the pledge to be safe every time you’re in a vehicle. More information can be found at whatslethal.com.
1876 people attended the 2019 conference that ran from March 31 – April 2. Retired Sergeant McNichols was part of the last days panel on Prevention and Diversion to Improve Teen Driver Safety. He spoke in a break out session on building a successful grassroots effort within your community regarding Distracted Driving Awareness.
With Utah State Troopers Taylor and Charity Griffith. The photo of myself and the Griffiths was taken at Griff’s. Darrell Griffith played basketball at the University of Louisville and in the NBA for the Utah Jazz. He was often referred to as Dr. Dunkenstein
Dinner Feast at Churchill Downs
In Louisville suburb Jeffersontown Skyview Park about 13 miles from Downtown Louisville, this memorial bench was dedicated to fallen DPS Trooper Tyler Edenhofer #10449.
Here’s a photo posted by the Kentucky State Police from that ceremony.
Every year more than 4000 teens are killed in traffic collisions. About 60% of these deaths involve a passenger and nearly half result from someone not using their seatbelt. More than 400,000 are injured. This is the #1 cause of death among teens. If you could stop these deaths from happening would you?
For the past 30 plus years, we have been teaching students to buckle up as soon as they get in a vehicle. Today, you can ask toddlers through senior citizens what’s the first thing to do when they get in the car. They will almost all say “Buckle Up.” Everyone knows driving distracted is stupid and wrong but we haven’t begun practicing putting away distractions as soon as we get in a vehicle. We can prevent nearly 4000 teen deaths a year if we buckle up and put away distractions.
So what is driving distracted? It is anything that takes our eyes off the road, hands off the steering wheel, and/or mind off driving. Some of the ways I have observed people driving distracted include: using their cell phone to talk, text or using other functions available, putting on makeup, shaving, eating, drinking, reading a newspaper or tablet, watching videos, reaching for objects, turning to talk to passengers, using a laptop, and even changing their clothes. Some people think using a hands free device is not a distraction but it is because it takes your mind off the road and your surroundings.
In Arizona, a teen under the age of 18 must get an Instructional Permit for at least 6 months before they get their license. They can get their permit at 15 years and 6 months of age. During this permit time, they have to have a licensed driver over 21 with tbem. They need to have a total of 30 supervised driving hours before they can get their license (at age 16). Once the driver completes their permit phase, they can take their driving test for the class G license. The first 6 months of this license has restrictions: only one child that is not a sibling can be in the vehicle, students cannot be out between 12 AM and 5 AM unless driving from a school function, church, or work, drivers cannot use a hands free device during the first six months having a Class G license unless it is an emergency. These restrictions are in place so the new drivers can give their complete attention to driving. Although the restrictions eventually are lifted, the risk associated with driving do not decrease, therefore we need to encourage all drivers to put away ALL their distractions. Visit Azdot.gov for more information.
We can’t prevent cancer, diseases or illnesses from taking a young person; nor can we prevent acts of God such as weather related deaths; nor can we prevent wild animal attacks (shark, mountain lions,etc), But we CAN PREVENT the #1 killer of our teens DISTRACTED DRIVING.
Visit Createrealimpact.com for scholarship opportunities for students 14 – 22. This scholarship is available twice a year.
You can learn more about Distracted Driving Awareness by visiting:
The Southern Arizona Law Enforcement Foundation (Previously the Tucson Police Foundation) START program is available in Tucson for new drivers. Visit their website for more information. State Farm Insurance offers a new driver program called Steer Clear.
Thus information was provided by Kevin McNichols. Mr. McNichols is an instructor for Impact Teen Drivers. He retired ad a Sergeant from the Arizona Department of Public Safety in 2018. Prior to working with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, he was a Deputy and School Resource Officer with the Mohave County Sheriff’s Office and a Recreation Coordinator with the City of Kingman.
SOUTHERN PATROL BUREAU – DISTRICT SIX 2016 TROOPER OF THE YEAR
Trooper Auerbach has been with the Department since January of 2013 and has been assigned to Casa Grande in District Six. Prior to employment with the Arizona Department of Public Safety, Trooper Auerbach was an officer with the Marana Police Department and also served in the United States Army.
Throughout the year, Trooper Auerbach conducted 1427 traffic stops, investigated 50 traffic collisions, assisted 192 motorists in need, issued 146 civil speed citations, 46 criminal speed citations, 29 distracted driver citations and warnings, 35 child restraint citations, 97 adult restraint citations, 357 non-hazardous citations. Trooper Auerbach impounded 78 vehicles and conducted 288 commercial vehicle inspections. Trooper Auerbach also recovered 5 occupied stolen vehicles and 1 un-occupied stolen vehicle. In addition, he arrested 55 persons, to include: 11 for misdemeanor DUI, 2 for felony DUI, 15 misdemeanor warrants, and 5 for felony warrants. Trooper Auerbach also submitted 23 misdemeanor arrest long form charges and 57 felony arrest long form charges to the Pinal County Attorney Office.
Trooper Auerbach continuously looks beyond the traffic stop and educates the members of district six on how to become better criminal interdictors. Trooper Auerbach has even been District Six’s criminal interdictor of the year. Trooper Auerbach truly is an informal leader within the Arizona Department of Public Safety. Trooper Auerbach consistently sets the example for other troopers, been acting supervisor for weeks at a time, and is looked up to by new troopers in District Six.
One of Trooper Auerbach’s many drug seizures occurred in August on I-10 eastbound at milepost 183. Trooper Auerbach looking beyond a commercial motor vehicle inspection and parking violation seized 2.5 pounds of cocaine in the cab of a truck tractor. The defendant was sentenced to 1.5 years in prison at the Arizona Department of Corrections and 5 years of probation.
Trooper Auerbach exemplifies the department’s mission to protect human life and property by enforcing state laws by being a certified fraudulent document examiner, general instructor, level one commercial vehicle inspector, and a National Criminal Enforcement Association interdictor.
It is with great pleasure that Trooper Matthew Auerbach is recognized as the District Six Southern Patrol Bureau Trooper of the Year.
Lieutenant Colonel Daniel Lugo – Highway Patrol Division
Trooper Auerbach conducted 1427 traffic stops, investigated 50 traffic collisions, assisted 192 motorists in need, issued 146 civil speed citations, 46 criminal speed citations, 29 distracted driver citations and warnings, 35 child restraint citations, 97 adult restraint citations, 357 non-hazardous citations, impounded 78 vehicles, conducted 288 commercial vehicle inspections, recovered 5 occupied stolen vehicles and 1 un-occupied stolen vehicle. In addition, he arrested 55 persons, to include: 11 for misdemeanor DUI, 2 for felony DUI, 15 misdemeanor warrants, and 5 for felony warrants. Trooper Auerbach also submitted 23 misdemeanor arrest long form charges and 57 felony arrest long form charges. Trooper Auerbach is a general instructor, level one commercial vehicle inspector, certified fraudulent document examiner, and a National Criminal Enforcement Association interdictor. Trooper Auerbach is highly respected amongst his cohorts. It is with great pleasure Trooper Matthew Auerbach is recognized as the Southern Patrol Bureau District Six Trooper of the year.
From the Casa Grande Dispatch column and photo by Bill Coates
Trooper Auerbach got a message over dispatch. “It’s a burgundy semi with a white trailer,” dispatcher said. “Has the driver’s-side wheel that’s wobbling and appears to be ready to come off.” That didn’t sound safe at all. And we were in the safety corridor. I was riding shotgun, in the sense I had the passenger seat. No actual weaponry. I rode with Trooper Auerbach to get some idea about how Highway Patrol troopers do their job inside the safety corridors. The Department of Public Safety promises stricter enforcement inside them. Four have been set up around the state, as part of a two-year trial. They’re freeway stretches that rate high in crashes leading to death and injury. It’s all in the numbers, according to Capt. Glen Swavely, Casa Grande District commander. “This is the age of data policing, focusing on those areas where there’s the most need,” Swavely said by phone.
His troopers patrol one of those safety corridors. It’s a 23-mile stretch of Interstate 10, running from north of the Gila River south to Exit 185 (Pinal Avenue). Signs along the way tell motorists they’re in the safety corridor. Anybody who’s driven from Casa Grande to Phoenix — and back — can’t help but notice them. Anybody who’s not asleep at the wheel, that is. I rode the safety corridor with Auerbach on Monday. He asked I not use his first name. He does undercover work as well. He’s a veteran with two tours in Iraq. He’s been in law enforcement for eight years, four of those with DPS. He loves his job, dogs and Beatles. So we got along fine.
Before taking the call on the wobbly-wheeled truck, he stopped two speeders. He caught them with a lidar gun. It’s like radar but it uses a laser instead of radio waves. Auerbach first parked just north of the Gila River. He aimed his lidar at cars and trucks headed toward Phoenix. It can clock speeds from the far side of a football field. Here’s what the safety corridor means to Auerbach and other troopers. “There will be additional focus on collision-causing violations,” Auerbach said. They include unsafe lane changes, tailgating and speeding. Arizona freeways have generous speed limits to begin with. Outside urban areas, it’s 75 miles per hour. Many motorists treat that as a suggestion. The real-world speed limit to them is 80 or even 85.
I asked Auerbach what he considered speeding. “Seventy-six.” He hastened to add troopers still issue citations outside the safety corridor. There’s no free pass. Safety corridors went live last December. In the first full month, motorists on the I-10 stretch received 419 citations, up from 204 in that same period last year. Staff writer Kevin Reagan noted the jump in the Feb. 13 Dispatch. In reporting DPS figures, he also pointed out that, overall, safety corridors only slightly curbed crashes. The four corridors saw 619 collisions between Dec. 12 and Feb. 9. That’s five less than a year earlier. Of course, that’s just one month-plus out of 24. In time, more tickets might mean better driving habits.
Most drivers passing through Auerbach’s lidar apparently got the memo. They seemed like a well-behaved bunch. A trooper by the side of the road apparently works wonders. The lidar logged speeds from 60 to 77, and everything in between. Then came 80. A good candidate for strict enforcement. But not as good as the Toyota Camry that followed, going 83. Auerbach quickly caught up to it. Brett, a 30-year-old banker from Sierra Vista, was headed to the OdySea Aquarium in Scottsdale. She was late for meeting a friend. I didn’t ask for a last name. Why embarrass her? She was just minding her own business speeding down the freeway.
Later, Auerbach pulled over a motorcyclist headed to Casa Grande. David, 51, was on his way to work. His motorcycle, he explained, accelerates with just a flick of the wrist. Auerbach clocked him flicking along at 85. Any faster could have meant a criminal citation. That’s not your average speeding ticket, taken care of with a half day in driver’s safety class and a half week’s wages. It could mean a hefty fine, arrest and jail time. David went on his way, only now a bit more slowly. Then came the call on the wobbly-wheeled semi.
An astute motorist had called it in. I think the same motorist kept pace with the truck, giving updates on location. Auerbach was near the northern edge of the Casa Grande District, milepost 169. The truck had already rolled past. “They’re eastbound at 173 at this time,” dispatch said. Eastbound I-10 runs south as it approaches Casa Grande.
Auerbach got on the road. He had a semi to catch, before it lost a wheel. I’m pretty sure he’d be on it with or without a safety corridor. “It’s very hazardous,” he said. A semi’s wheel weighs several hundred pounds, he added. “It could hit a vehicle. It could cause a rollover.” And the truck might crash, too. And a truck with trailer weighs a lot more than the wheel. The dispatcher gave running updates. “Eastbound approaching Casa Blanca … eastbound from 177 … eastbound from 181.” Auerbach radioed back: “Approaching 180, trying to get through traffic.” The traffic was clogging up the two southbound lanes. He had to make his way through cars lined up like trains in both of them.
Most of I-10 past Casa Grande, en route to Tucson, has three lanes each way. The stretch from Wild Horse Pass to Casa Grande at Exit 185 has two. And that’s no longer enough. Too many cars, too little freeway. “It’s been identified as a need,” said Tim Tait, a spokesman for the Arizona Department of Transportation. It’s an unfunded need. Beyond the money, issues of right of way need to be worked out with the Gila River Indian Community. For now, the state is making do with a safety corridor. And DPS, for one, puts its money on enforcement. It’s not the road that causes collisions, Capt. Swavely said. “It’s through human error.”
Auerbach finally broke through and caught up to the truck, just north of McCartney Road. The wheel apparently wasn’t the issue. A tire on the trailer had a partially bald tread. Enough to create a wobble. And enough for Auerbach to order the truck off the road until the tire gets replaced. He followed the driver to Love’s truck stop, about 10 miles down the freeway. Auerbach is certified to inspect commercial trucks. And inspect it he did. He found a few minor things, like discolored blinker signals. The tire was the real hazard. It would be fixed. And the safety corridor would be one truck safer.