Freeport Police Officer Alan Moreno is on a mission to end drunken driving. He has been since he began his eight-year career. On April 12 he was honored for his work at the New York Metro Law Enforcement Event, hosted by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, at the Coral House in Baldwin.
“I’m so honored to be here,” Moreno said. “Drunk driving is something that affects the entire community and is a serious issue.”
The event celebrated police officers from Nassau and Suffolk counties and New York City who work with MADD to reduce and eliminate drunken and drugged driving, which kills nearly 300 New Yorkers each year, according to MADD.org.
The luncheon included a bagpipe performance by the Nassau County Police Department Pipe Band and remarks by Richard Mallow, executive director of MADD in New York.
“We’re here for one reason and one reason only,” Mallow said. “That is all of the law enforcement officers in this room. Your job that you do every single day is beyond remarkable. Without you, our roads and communities would not be safe.”
Moreno recalled a time during his early days as a police officer when his training officer’s mother was nearly killed by a drunken driver. It was then, he said, that he realized the potentially devastating effects of drunken driving, not only on individuals, but also whole communities. Moreno is in a specialized unit whose job it is to reduce DWI.
He is trained in Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement, or ARIDE, a training course provided by the Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee that teaches officers to observe, identify and articulate the signs of impairment because of drugs, alcohol or both, according to the SafeNY website. Thanks to his training, Moreno said, he can help reduce the number of impaired drivers and DWI crashes.
“ARIDE is an enhancement training for DWI detection,” he said. Freeport Police Chief Miguel Bermudez sent him on the training. “I’m glad that [he did] so that I can help the village more,” Moreno said.
He added that many of the drivers arrested in Freeport for DWI come from neighboring communities that are connected to Freeport via Sunrise Highway and Merrick Road.
“People are always cutting through Freeport,” Moreno said. “Unfortunately, the victims are the residents of Freeport who are just doing their regular daily things. However, it doesn’t just affect one person. It affects an entire community.”
The luncheon ceremony also included remarks by keynote speaker J.T. Griffin, MADD’s national chief of government affairs, and recognition of neighboring police departments and officers. Freeport Mayor Robert Kennedy and Bermudez also attended.
“We’re watching everyone in the village, and Alan is a dedicated police officer who really works hard,” Kennedy said. “He has a good eye for people who abuse the alcohol, and I’m proud to be here to thank him for the work that he’s done.”