By John Larson
The Socorro Police Department and Chief George Van Winkle were honored this week by Gov. Bill Richardson and the state’s DWI Czar, Rachel O’Connor, for their increased efforts to reduce drunk driving in New Mexico in 2010.
Van Winkle received the Governor’s Superblitz Performance Award at city hall Wednesday. The police department was also awarded $10,000 to go toward DWI related equipment.
“We will probably use the money to buy cameras for four of our units,” Van Winkle said.
The department will also receive funding to attend the next national Lifesaver’s conference, a national highway safety meeting, in Phoenix.
According to O’Connor, since 2003 New Mexico has seen a 35 percent reduction in alcohol-related fatalities. The state had 221 alcohol-related fatalities in 2002. There have been 131 alcohol-related fatalities in the state to date in 2010.
Decisions were based on an independent review of all agencies participating in Superblitz activities. Awards were given to the top performers for large, medium and small agencies whose activities contributed to the reduction in alcohol-related fatalities.
Others receiving the award were Chief Faron Segotta of the New Mexico State Police and Chief Ernest Mendoza of the Eddy County Sheriff’s Department.
“We have all worked very hard to keep drunk drivers off our streets, and we are proud of the work of these law enforcement agencies,” Richardson said in a press release. “Their efforts have been crucial in the success of our statewide efforts in reducing DWI in New Mexico.”