Law Enforcement Support

Mission Moment – March 2022

“I did not choose this path; it has chosen me”
By Brittney Lamb

It was December 14th, 1997. I was going on a special outing with my Aunt Julie – to see a performance of the Nutcracker in Denver. I was a ballet dancer and had not seen the show live before. It was everything I thought it would be and more. After the show, we were listening to Spice Girls and singing at the top of our lungs. I commented that we were hitting every green light on the way home – how lucky!

We were just about a mile from my parents’ house when a driver, whose blood alcohol level was determined to be .087, crossed the median and struck my aunt’s car head on, in excess of 50 mph.

The sound of crunching metal is more disgusting than you imagine it to be. It sounds like the organs of a robot being ripped out. After the hit, it was silent. We were still moving, though, in what felt like a slow-motion action scene in a movie. When the car came to a stop, I was looking out through the empty spot where the windshield used to be. I looked over and saw my aunt’s curly brown hair covered in blood. Her head was on the steering wheel, and I started screaming for her to wake up. I was later told Aunt Julie died on impact.


I remember the sound of metal-on-metal, again, which I later learned were the jaws of life trying to cut me out of the car. The firefighters could not get me out, and into the flight for life – because my door was stuck. The decision was made to put the driver who hit us into the flight for life. Upon liftoff, something went wrong. The helicopter’s blades hit power lines, fell to the ground, and everyone on board died – the pilot, two nurses, and the drunk driver.


I truly believe that my aunt did not leave right away, but was looking out for me, making sure I was going to make it. I know, by some divine intervention, that I was not supposed to be in that helicopter.

I remember waking up once in the ICU. A nurse was in the room. It was dark except for the lights from the machines surrounding me. There were tubes going in my arms and down my throat. The nurse told me that I was okay, and I was going into a surgery. This surgery, I would later learn, would be to repair the extensive damage done to my face. I was put into an induced coma due to the severe swelling in my brain.

When I woke up from my induced coma, seven days later, I learned that much of my face had been fractured – cheekbones crushed, nose broken, top of the mouth broken, forehead bone exposed. My collarbone was broken. Fingers broken. Foot and toes broken. Two plates were placed in my cheekbones, and one on top of my mouth – and they are still there today. I asked for a mirror in the hospital and did not recognize myself. I was devastated, broken, hurt, and did not know what to do or feel. I was lost. My parents broke the news about my aunt to me, and I didn’t believe them. I refused to believe them. The physical injuries healed over time. I still have pain in my foot, where a screw was placed, and have unexplained headaches. The mental injuries, however, will never fully heal.


I was in denial for a very long time about what had happened, and I fully blamed myself for my aunt’s death. I was taken to see a therapist, but after several sessions with me not talking, I stopped going. I was bullied in middle school for my scars – Scarface was among the names they called me. I went from being an outgoing, happy girl to depressed, quiet, and lonely. I refused to talk to anyone about anything crash related – I just wanted to go back to the day it happened and tell my Aunt Julie to forget about the Nutcracker.

The crash was a source of mental anguish. I had not processed it and allowed the feelings I had surrounding it to creep into my life in every possible way. Not only did I blame myself for my aunt’s death, I had the thought that other people blamed me. I had a hard time making friends because I always feared I would be judged (like I was in middle school). I thought I always took the easy route, and not necessarily the one that was best for me, because I didn’t want to run into conflict or be a source of pain for anyone else. I tiptoed around in life – until I met a therapist that would change my life.

It wasn’t until 20 years after the crash that I saw the therapist. I wasn’t even there to talk about the crash, but once she learned of it, we decided to tackle it. My therapist and I did EMDR therapy – eye movement desensitization and reprocessing. EMDR is intended to process repressed memories by bringing them to the surface and rewiring your thoughts surrounding those memories. It helped me come to terms with the crash and how my life had been after it happened.

No, I was not to blame for the crash. Yes, my life was changed due to another’s decision. No, people do not look at me and instantly see my scars. No, I haven’t been on the easy route my whole life – someone chose the route I was to take when I was 12 years old – and it was anything but easy!

It was around this time that I started speaking at MADD Victim Impact Panels, which was immensely healing for me. Now, as well as MADD Victim Impact Panels, I speak in high school classrooms about drinking and driving, and at middle schools on anti-bullying. I am using what happened to me to guide others to make better decisions.

I did not choose this path; it was chosen for me. One decision can change a life forever, in ways you never thought possible. My life was changed on December 14, 1997, when a man decided to drink and drive without thinking of the consequences.

Editor’s note:  Brittney has published a book of her experience of being a victim/survivor of an impaired driver’s decision to drink and then drive.  You can find and order her book, “Stuck at Twelve, How One Man’s Decision to Drink and Drive Changed My Life” at this Amazon link: https://amzn.to/36HWvKJ

Guest Author – March 2022

Traffic Safety in Today’s World
What do we know, what do we see and what must we do?
“traffic safety IS public safety”

Assistant Chief William P. Georges, Ret.
Albany, New York Police Department
Chair, Traffic Safety Committee
New York State Association of Chiefs of Police
Member, IACP Highway Safety Committee

Clearly we know that several factors, including but not limited to, the Covid pandemic, calls to defund/decrease police services and personnel shortages have taken its toll on traffic safety especially in the area of enforcement. This is not said as a criticism but merely as an understandable outcome of the events of today’s world.

So with that said, what do we in law enforcement see as a result? Traffic enforcement has decreased, hazardous moving violations and impaired driving have increased and crashes, especially fatalities have also increased. We know this not only because the data clearly shows this but also because of what we are routinely seeing on our roadways. How many times when you are driving in your personal vehicle do you see multiple violations of speeding and other hazardous violations that contribute to crashes? Despite the good work that we all do, we must now reinvigorate our mission to save lives by keeping our roadways safe.

I realize if you are reading this piece, and subscribe to the excellent resources which MADD provides, I am truly “preaching to the choir”. As with you, the New York State Association of Chiefs of Police (NYSACOP) believes traffic safety engagement (enforcement, public information and education and liaison with engineering and EMS) must be a pillar of an agency’s policing model. In an effort towards ensuring we accomplish that important mission, I would like to share some of our initiatives.

So what must we do? First we must firmly believe, and communicate to the public, that traffic safety is public safety! Traffic safety engagement by both law enforcement, and the community they serve, produces long-term positive impact by reducing harm and improving quality of life, preventing and reducing crime, and enhancing outreach and community service to the public.

Next, the formula for success: Training – Culture – Leadership.

Training:  Do not overlook fundamental training of our personnel in the following areas:

  • Safe and proper traffic stop techniques.
  • Effective communication and de-escalation skills.
  • Take full advantage of ongoing traffic safety training provided by your State Governor’s Highway Safety Office, and other state agencies, NHTSA, IACP and other training institutions/organizations.
  • Special focus should be given to impaired driving training such as SFST, ARIDE and Drug Recognition Experts.

Culture:

  • While officer safety is critically important, we must ensure that our personnel treat motorists stopped for a violation both fairly and professionally.
  • We often hear the term “equity” as it applies to enforcement and that is critically important. We must constantly strive and properly supervise personnel to ensure that we always provide fair and balanced policing.
  • Why do we do traffic enforcement? It should never be about tickets or revenue but instead about terminating the offense and educating the offender.  Of course what enforcement measure is ultimately taken is based on the offense and other factors determined by the law enforcement officer.  At the end of the day, our mission is to save lives and keep our communities safe.

Leadership:

  • Law enforcement management teams must communicate to their personnel that traffic safety is important and produces positive outcomes for the community.
  • Use data-driven analysis to ensure effective deployment of resources. While traffic offenses happen everywhere, analyze crash data to determine where enforcement is needed most.
  • Traffic stops should always be based on observing a vehicle and traffic law violation, erratic driving (which usually includes a violation) and/or legitimate police information based on a vehicle description.
  • In many instances as a result of a traffic stop, criminal activity (possession of firearms, drugs, wanted persons, etc.) is discovered. Many good arrests are made in this scenario however, a traffic stop should not be conducted solely as an excuse for a potential criminal investigation/interrogation.

These principles guide NYSACOP members and their agencies in providing fair and balanced traffic safety services. Traffic safety is public safety and recent surveys have shown that a majority of the public supports our efforts.  We in law enforcement must continue our efforts to ultimately accomplish zero deaths on our roadways.  Alcohol, drug and poly-substance impaired driving is one of the most important hazards that we see.  What we can do is ensure that our efforts are working towards the ultimate goal that I know we all share…saving lives and reducing the tragedies that victims must endure.

Let me end by thanking MADD and other allied organizations for their continued support of law enforcement.  For further information and/or assistance, the NYSACOP traffic safety team can be contacted via e-mail at [email protected]. To all law enforcement personnel, thank you for all you do and stay safe!

Editors note:  In 1995, Assistant Chief Georges was the recipient of MADD’s National Law Enforcement Award for his work on New York State’s Project Zero initiative. 

Officer of the Month – March 2022

MADD March 2022 Officer of the Month
Deputy Thomas Klemke
Jefferson County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office

MADD National selects Deputy Thomas Klemke as our Officer of the Month for March 2022. Deputy Klemke is with the Jefferson County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office.

Deputy Klemke has long been one of the Sheriff’s Office’s most dedicated traffic officers. In addition to Deputy Klemke’s traffic duties, Deputy Klemke has also handled 660 non-traffic complaints for service.

Deputy Klemke understands the importance of traffic safety and how a strong traffic safety program deters crime. He has worked numerous special traffic safety grant assignments. As of December, in 2021, he made 1,167 traffic stops: issued 994 citations and wrote 173 traffic/equipment violation warnings.

Deputy Klemke in the past has served as a Field Training Officer for Jefferson County patrol deputies and has instilled his passion for traffic safety and enforcement in those new deputies. Even as a day shift deputy, he is always on active lookout for impaired drivers.

Deputy Klemke has received several achievement awards from MADD for his work on behalf of traffic safety for the Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office. We thank him for his dedication to duty in removing impaired drivers from Wisconsin’s roadways. His leadership and efforts and those of his fellow deputies are saving lives in Jefferson County and Wisconsin.

We are proud to select Deputy Thomas Klemke of the Jefferson County Wisconsin Sheriff’s Office as the MADD March 2022 Officer of the Month. We wish him the best in safety and wellness in the remaining years of his career and service to the citizens of Jefferson County and the State of Wisconsin.

Thank you to Jefferson County Sheriff Paul Milbrath for his nomination of Deputy Milbrath for this MADD recognition.

MADD extends our deepest condolences to the agencies and families who have lost officers and loved ones in the line of duty

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