Recognized for work to combat drunk driving

by: HILLSBORO TRIBUNE PHOTO: DOUG BURKHARDT - Officer Jason Moser of the Cornelius Police Department has been named as Oregons DUII Enforcement Trainer of the Year.Even one individual can make a big contribution if that person is dedicated to a certain cause.

In Cornelius, Officer Jason Moser of the Cornelius Police Department has won the “DUII (driving under the influence of intoxicants) Enforcement Trainer of the Year” award for 2012 from the Oregon Multi-Disciplinary DUII Enforcement Committee.

The committee comprises police officers, sheriff’s deputies, troopers with the Oregon State Police, prosecutors, court personnel, MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and other advocacy groups.

“I am truly honored and humbled to win this award,” Moser said. “I looked at some of the people who have won this award in the past, and it’s like winning a Grammy.”

“I’m very proud Officer Moser was chosen,” said interim Police Chief Ken Summers. “This award typically goes to large agencies. But Moser is not a typical enforcement officer.”

Moser has been a police officer for about 14 years, and has been with the Cornelius Police Department since 2010. Prior to that, he served nearly nine years with the Forest Grove Police Department, where impaired driving was already a focus for him.

“Between 2003 and 2009 I arrested more impaired drivers than anyone in the agency, some years accounting for more than half the entire department’s DUII arrests,” he said.

When he first began working in law enforcement, Moser said he encountered numerous drinking drivers and it made an impression on him.

“Early in my career I spent a lot of shifts working nights and graveyard. During that time, I arrested a lot of impaired drivers and became well versed in those types of investigations,” he explained.

Cornelius Police Sgt. Brian Schmid, who nominated Moser for the award, cited Moser’s commitment to teach others from a variety of agencies how to build legally-sound cases against intoxicated drivers.

“Whether he is on or off duty, Officer Moser has made himself available to other officers by responding to the scene of traffic stops to offer advice and expertise,” Schmid said.

“My approach isn’t necessarily unique,” Moser said, “other than when I teach I like to keep people interested with real-life analogies and a sense of humor.”

He recalls the talented instructors who taught him and tries to “pass that torch on” to his own students. Neighboring departments such as North Plains and Forest Grove don’t have standardized field-sobriety testing instructors on staff, he said, “so I offered to present refresher training at no cost.”

The award comes on the heels of Moser’s 2012 Officer of the Year award from the Cornelius Police Department and six years after an Officer of the Year award in Forest Grove.

After that 2007 honor, however, Moser ran into trouble for his handling of a 2010 traffic stop of a Chevy Suburban he thought — erroneously, as it turned out — matched the description of a gang-related vehicle. That incident led to a lawsuit and a $42,752 award against the city of Forest Grove.

Debra Bianchi, a Forest Grove resident and one of the women involved in that stop, is still angry about it.

Moser acknowledges he made a mistake and says he had “tunnel vision” that day. He said he’s continuing to try to do the best job he can.

Cornelius Mayor Jef Dalin said the prestigious statewide award Moser has earned reflects well on the city.

“It’s great to have that experience on our team,” Dalin said.

Summers said the importance of Moser’s work could not be overstated.

“Committee members chose Officer Moser over dedicated members of much larger agencies because of the positive impact he has had in the northwest portion of Oregon,” Summers said. “It is not an exaggeration to say that some motorists may be alive today because of the dozens of officers trained in DUII enforcement by Officer Jason Moser.”

Moser received the award during the Oregon Multi-Disciplinary DUII Enforcement Committee’s annual conference in Bend last Saturday, April 27.

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