INDIANAPOLIS — The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute recognized 23 law enforcement officers as part of the annual Indiana Drug Recognition Expert Awards Program recently.
A drug recognition expert (DRE) is a police officer who has received specialized training to help identify drivers under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Now in its sixth year, the awards program was created by the agency to recognize the contributions made by Indiana’s DREs. In total, ICJI presented 18 longevity awards for years of service, two leadership awards for going above and beyond and two emeritus awards for contributions made in retirement.
Richard Trail of the Jasper County Sheriff’s Department was presented one of the longevity awards. He has served 10 years as a drug recognition expert.
Awards were also presented to one officer based on the number of evaluations conducted and to Louisiana-based J.O. Jones Consulting, LLC, for its support of the program.
“Drug recognition experts are critical to taking impaired drivers off the road,” said Devon McDonald, ICJI Executive Director. “Their efforts have saved countless lives, and it was an honor to recognize their service and commitment to public safety.”
Every year, two leadership awards are presented to one officer and one instructor. Formerly known as the DRE Officer of the Year and DRE Instructor of the Year, the awards were renamed in 2017 in honor of fallen DRE officers: Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department Officer David Moore, who was killed in the line of duty in 2011, and Indiana State Police Lieutenant Gary Dudley, who was struck and killed while participating in a charity bike ride for the Indiana chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors in 2006.
This year, the Officer David Moore DRE Officer of the Year Award was presented to Indiana State Police Trooper Noah Ewing. Ewing, a Pennsylvania native, has been with Indiana State Police for 5 years. After graduating from the 75th Indiana State Police Recruit Academy in 2015, he was assigned to the Jasper Post patrolling Orange County.
Ewing completed his DRE certification in 2019, and although relatively new to the program, for the past two years, he has conducted the most DRE evaluations out of any officer in the state – 35 in 2020. This honor adds to the growing list of awards Ewing has received over the past couple of years including the Jasper District Trooper of the Year, Jasper District’s Top OWI Trooper and the Life Saving Award.
The Lt. Gary Dudley DRE Instructor of the Year Award was presented to Officer Michael Wittl with the Avon Police Department. Wittl began his career with the department after graduating from the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy in 2003. He completed his DRE certification in 2007 and became an instructor the following year. Wittl assumed the duties of Assistant State Coordinator in 2017.
Indiana DRE Program Coordinator Marshall Depew commended the award recipients. He said the program was created in 1988 in Indiana to enhance enforcement effectiveness and that there are approximately 200 DRE certified officers in the state.
The 2021 award recipients were recognized at a ceremony held last Friday in the Youth Pavilion at the Indiana State Fairgrounds.