Westerville's Division of Police was honored last month by the Franklin County DUI Task Force as its Law Enforcement Organization of the Year.

Westerville's Division of Police was honored last month by the Franklin County DUI Task Force as its Law Enforcement Organization of the Year.

Also honored at the Oct. 22 awards luncheon was officer Justin Alloway, who received the task force's Law Enforcement Personnel Certificate of Merit.

Westerville's own DUI enforcement efforts were also recognized by the task force at the awards luncheon.

The occasion marked the first time Westerville has received the distinction, said Sgt. Paul Scowden, who acts as liaison between the WPD and the task force.

"We're very proud of the efforts we make, and we have quite a few programs offered where we try to educate the community on the dangers involved with driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol," Scowden said.

He said Alloway was nominated for the award because of his work with the Westerville school district.

"Not only did officer Alloway have a good number of DUI arrests as a patrol officer, he now works extensively with the schools around their prom season with drug- and alcohol-awareness," Scowden said. "He also went out and found the federal funding to pay for our drunk-driving simulator, which he's now using to teach classes."

Of the 36 members of the Franklin County DUI Task Force, Westerville's police division has seen its fair share of work, according to Scowden. There were 6,580 DUI arrests in Franklin County in fiscal year 2008, up from 6,317 in 2008. There have been 513 arrests recorded so far in this fiscal year that began in October.

"For Westerville, we had 273 arrests in 2008, but when you think about organizations like CPD, they have 1,800 officers and 2,300 arrests," Scowden said. "Ohio State Highway Patrol has 1,400 arrests, and we're the highest after those two agencies.

"For Westerville, we're working with 75 officers, only 36 of whom are on patrol, and out of that I have 10 officers and three supervisors who do the majority of these DUI arrests."

Carl Booth, coordinator of the countywide task force, said the division's dedication to the program earned this year's recognition.

"We had a lot of good nominations this year, but they stood out," Booth said. "Westerville is very progressive in their DUI enforcement and they are a very supportive sponsor of our DUI checkpoint program."

More information about the police department's various DUI-related initiatives can be found online at www.westerville.org or by calling (614) 901-6450.