STONINGTON — For Stonington patrol officers Halim Hage and Ryan Rodgers, the commitment to stop drunk driving is about making sure all visitors and residents make it home safe. Now the two are being recognized for their efforts.
The two men, who normally serve on the Stonington Police Department's second and third shifts, were honored last month for their efforts with an award of appreciation from the Connecticut chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving. The annual award is given to officers with law enforcement agencies across the state who display a commitment to safety through DUI education and enforcement.
The two officers, who have both served with the Stonington Police Department since 2016, were recognized during the 34th annual Law Enforcement Recognition Ceremony hosted in mid-September at Mohegan Sun.
"The recognition from my department and Mothers Against Drunk Driving was truly an honor," Rodgers said. "I take pride in my job and want the best for my community. The safety of others is paramount and I believe it’s important for the public to understand the dangers of driving under the influence."
The award marks the second in under a year for Rodgers, a native of southeastern Connecticut. He was also named the department's 2019 Officer of the Year as a result of his efforts.
Hage is a University of Connecticut graduate with strong connections to southeastern Connecticut, and department officials said he has thrived in his time with the agency. He is not only one of the top community officers for DUI enforcement, but has worked alongside others in the department on some of the biggest cases.
Stonngton Police Capt. Todd Olson said that the two officers have helped lead a team of dedicated individuals within the agency committed to constantly improving resident safety. Olson said those efforts include a concentrated effort in both enforcing DUI laws and educating the public on the dangers of driving while under the influence and the impact it can have on family, friends, neighbors or the community as a whole.
"We have a department full of very dedicated, professional and hard-working officers that are committed to keeping our roadways safe," Olson said. "This includes Officer Hage and Officer Rodgers, and they do a terrific job every day."
The award is not an end point, Rodgers and Hage both said this week, and Rodgers noted that DUI crashes remain the top cause of death on roadways throughout the U.S.
Both officers said the recognition only serves as added motivation to continue to educate, conduct enforcement and do whatever else it takes to keep residents safe.
"There is no excuse for driving under the influence, as there are plenty of services available to make sure anyone can make it home safely," Hage said. "Driving under the influence effects everyone’s life differently and ensuring everyone’s safety is our number one priority, which is what keeps me motivated day in and day out."