This year, MADD Florida wanted to illustrate the significance of our state-wide recognition program by highlighting top honorees from the recognition ceremony in 2018.

In this interview, we feature Sergeant Mike Eastty, Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office. PCSO was nominated for Outstanding Dedication to DUI Enforcement and Prevention. The nomination reads:

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office covers the unincorporated areas and the fourteen cities under contract with the Sheriff’s Office for primary law enforcement services. This area of responsibility covers 608 square miles and a population of 949,847. The Sheriff’s Office has a total of 950 members with the purpose of providing services, helping, and protecting the people of Pinellas County, both visitors and residence.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to keeping the traffic ways of Pinellas County safe by having a full service traffic enforcement program; the Selective Traffic Enforcement Program Unit (STEP Unit). The STEP Unit is broken into two separate squads, the Traffic Enforcement unit and the DUI unit. The Traffic Enforcement unit focus’ on high volume traffic area’s and traffic related problems; such as school zones, neighborhood traffic related issues, and strict enforcement of seatbelt and vehicle safety requirements. The DUI unit is a dedicated unit that primarily works during the night and specializes in DUI enforcement. The DUI Unit is an eight person unit dedicated to removing impaired drivers from our traffic ways. The deputies assigned to this unit are required to be highly trained in the investigation of impaired driving.

All members of the DUI unit are required to successfully complete the Drug Recognition Expert course within the first eighteen months they are assigned to the DUI unit.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office currently has fourteen Drug Recognition Experts (DRE), including three certified DRE Instructors. The Sheriff’s Office has a quarterly training program for the DREs within our agency. This training includes evaluations with certified DRE Instructors, inspection and replacement of DRE equipment, and a review of any changes to the Drug Evaluation and Classification Program (DECP). This program has been such a success the Sheriff’s Office has opened the training to other certified DREs within Pinellas County.

The STEP Unit also works regularly with the Sheriff’s Office Marine Unit and assists with investigating impaired boat operators. Since Pinellas County is surrounded by water on three sides, it is important that the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office maintains safe water ways.

During 2017 the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has removed 1400 + impaired drivers from our roadways.
The members of STEP Unit participate in the Pinellas County quarterly multi-jurisdictional county wide DUI Wolf Packs, organized by the Sheriff’s Office DUI Unit.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office has obtained a grant from FDOT to increase the number of deputies on the road during holidays for the purpose of removing impaired drivers from our roads. These Saturation Patrols supplement the Sheriff’s Office already implemented DUI Wolf Packs and have been very successful in removing impaired drivers.

The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office STEP Unit members also participate in other traffic safety events like:

Quarterly multi-jurisdiction DUI Wolf Packs
Sheriff’s Office DUI Saturation Patrols
Click it or Ticket
Back to School Traffic Safety
Boating Safety Awareness Campaigns
Road Safety Assessment program

Along with investigating impaired drivers, the members of the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office DUI Unit participate in community functions such as:

Pinellas County’s Monthly Victim Impact Panels
Pinellas County’s Monthly Victim Impact Panels
Sheriff’s Office Citizens Academy
SADD Presentations
Educational and Health Fairs
A variety of community educational programs, including the Great American Teach In.

Pinellas County Sheriff Bob Gualtieri is committed to protecting our community and making our roads safe for all by “Leading the way to a safer Pinellas.”

Interview Questions:

1. What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated?

It was an honor for PCSO to be nominated. Being nominated boosts the moral of our men and women in the STEP unit because their hard work hasn’t gone unnoticed.

2. How did it feel when you found out you received top honoree in your nominated category?

I was sitting at the table and heard my agency’s name. It was a huge shock! It had so much meaning because the title of top honoree in DUI enforcement and prevention recognizes the effort that we put in every day to combat impaired driving.

3. If you could do one thing, leave one mark in the community, what would it be?

For our agency, our mark will be to do two things. 1] Educating the community on the consequences of driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs and prescription drugs and 2] Removing offenders from the road. We know that every arrest is a tragedy that has been prevented.

4. Will you be attending this year’s ceremony? Yes!

5. Fun Fact Question: What is your favorite thing to do outside of work?

I love to travel. My team always gives me grief about how much I travel. I’ve been to Vancouver, St. Louis, New York City, New Orleans, Omaha, Houston; just to name a few. My favorite place is New Orleans because of the food and music!