A Cass County Sheriff’s Deputy has claimed the Governor’s Traffic Safety Bureau (GTSB) Award for “Outstanding Performance as a Drug Recognition Expert” (DRE). A DRE has the training to help identify drivers impaired by drugs other than alcohol. Deputy Ben Bartholomew, a more than five-year veteran of the Sheriff’s Department, won the award for the second consecutive year in a row. “Bart,” as he’s known, received a certificate along with the recognition at an event held last Wednesday, in Altoona.
Bartholomew performed 27 evaluations last year on drivers suspected of being impaired. While he normally works at night, his fellow deputies and other law enforcement officers can call on his expertise anytime it is needed. He says he dealing with those who are drug impaired is not limited exclusively to the nighttime hours. Bartholomew says they deal with many people who abuse prescription drugs, and drug use has evolved from a party atmosphere to addicts who use them anytime of the day, and put the public at risk when they drive.
Bart says all of the DRE’s are well trained in multiple techniques to identify and test for impaired drivers. A couple of months ago, an ARIDE (Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection Enforcement) class was held in Atlantic, to help area law enforcement officers identify potentially impaired drivers, before they call a DRE. He says it’s his job to determine which drug is impairing the driver.
Bartholomew says there are no specific age groups or genders of people he typically identifies as driving while impaired by drugs. And, he says people need to understand DRE’s are not there to pick on impaired drivers. He says it’s a DRE’s responsibility to make sure an impaired driver doesn’t injure themselves or other drivers.