Three Warwick policemen honored for DUI efforts

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Members of the Rhode Island State Police and local law enforcement from Westerly to Woonsocket, as well as state chapters of national advocacy groups, gathered at the Cranston Country Club Friday morning to honor local officials for their role in preventing impaired driving incidents.

The second annual Awards Breakfast, organized by the Rhode Island chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), recognized law enforcement officers and detectives from the State Police, Coventry, Central Falls, Cranston, Smithfield, Tiverton, Warren, Warwick, Westerly and Woonsocket and presented them with “DUI pins” and commendations for their commitment to keeping impaired drivers off the road.

“These individuals have been right on the front lines in preventing and stopping drunk driving, so creating an opportunity to showcase their efforts is extremely important,” said MADD Rhode Island Executive Director Eric Creamer in a release for the event.

The Warwick Police Department had a strong showing at the recognition ceremony.

Officer Aaron Kay took home the DUI Hero of the Year award for his time on duty as a member of the traffic division. An officer with Warwick since 2013, Kay has made 112 arrests for DUI-related incidents and has been a lead investigator in conducting reconstructions of accidents. One such investigation led to the arrest of an offender who severely injured a pedestrian while driving under the influence. Kay was able to track down the perpetrator with nothing more than a few pieces that broke off of the offender’s vehicle.

Officer Ali Jaafar was recognized with the Rookie of the Year Award. Jaafar began his career in Warwick in May of 2016 and has made 155 arrests and issues 692 traffic citations since, including 38 arrests for impaired driving. Guest speaker Tony Petrarca, Chief Meteorologist for WPRI, told a story of Jaafar and his wife administering first aid to a driver and their 17-year-old passenger who were hit by an impaired driver – while Jaafar was off duty.

Officer Derek Mourato, who joined the force in May of 2016, was awarded a DUI pin and commended for many of his arrests, including a particularly busy night on St. Patrick’s Day where he made five arrests – including one offender who later thanked Mourato for giving him a “wakeup call.”

Warwick resident and vocal impaired driving awareness advocate Jammie Boullier was also recognized. She was awarded the Volunteer Hero award for her dedicated involvement with MADD Rhode Island and various other impaired driving awareness campaigns, including an awareness video made by her daughter, Isabelle.

Jammie’s daughter Megan organized a law enforcement press conference as part of her senior project at Pilgrim High School earlier this month that drew state and local law enforcement officials from multiple communities, as well as officials from the Department of Transportation. The family has been outspoken advocates for safe driving after Jammie’s oldest daughter, Kyra, was hit head-on by a drunk driver on her 17th birthday in 2015.

The event featured closing remarks from Rebecca White, who was the lone survivor of a drunk driving accident that claimed the lives of her mother and best friend when she was only 14 years old.

“My story is just one of many in this state and in this country that people have endured on a daily basis,” White said. “I believe that we will one day eliminate drunk driving. Maybe not in my lifetime, maybe not in my son’s lifetime, but it’s going to happen. I truly, truly believe that. It’s a 100 percent preventable crime.”

The point was reiterated again and again – that all drunk driving incidents can be avoided by simply taking the time to think about your decision, and think about the people that it could impact.

“Drinking and driving is a choice. It can be an individual choice or possibly a group choice. But it just takes one person saying something to someone and having a plan in place to stop this from ever happening,” said Creamer. “You can make a huge difference. You, individually, can save someone’s life and impact someone’s family in a very positive way.”

White ended her remarks by giving a heartfelt thanks to the law enforcement officials in the room.

“Your jobs are not easy ones. You see things on a daily basis that nobody should have to endure. I thank you for your effort and what you do,” she said. “You are our heroes. From one victim, thank you. Thank you for taking the time to write that long, long DUI report. You’ll never know the lives that you’ve saved, but know that you are saving lives.”

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