Alumni Keep Roads Safe in Brazos County2 Sam Houston alumni were at the forefront of training local officers how to detect drug use among those they encounter on the roads
Sgt. Jason “Jay” Summers (’00) of the College Station Police Department and Officer William Challis (’06) of the Bryan Police Department have a knack and a passion for catching drivers under the influence of alcohol or drugs. They are both certified as Drug Recognition Experts (DRE), trained to detect the use of different classes of drugs among those stopped for DUIs. They recently returned to Sam Houston State University for recertification through the Impaired Driving Initiatives, which is funded by the Texas Department of Transportation.
“This training allows us to stay on top of the current trends so we can recognize the drugs being used,” said Sgt. Summers, who serves as a Night Patrol Shift Supervisor at the College Station Police Department.
Drugged driving is on the rise throughout the state and country because of an increase in the use of prescription drugs, the legalization of marijuana in several states, and a rise in opiate abuse.
Officer Challis served with a DRE expert during his internship with the Tomball Police Department and sat in on the evaluation of suspected drunk or drugged drivers. Within the first few months on the job, Challis made 15 DUI arrests. After two years on patrol, he was assigned as the traffic accident reconstruction expert at the Bryan Police Department, a position he held for five years. Challis now is assigned to the VICE unit, and he wants to keep up his DRE certification to help him pinpoint drug and alcohol use during the drug sales and buys he observes.
Summers became passionate about the topic after his best friend, who was impaired, killed someone in an accident. “I want to take these people off the street before they kill someone or kill themselves,” Sgt. Summers said.
Both Summers and Challis are instructors in the Texas A & M Engineering Extension Service (TEEX) Police Academy and share their knowledge with recruits. “There has been a rise in impaired driving,” Summers said. “I do not know if it’s because we are more knowledgeable about it or because we can take more appropriate enforcement.”
Both officers said the more they expose new recruits to the DRE practice, the more confident they will become in using it on patrol. “Knowledge brings confidence on the on the job,” said Sgt. Summers.
The Impaired Driving Initiatives offer several programs that raise awareness about driving impairment due to drugs or alcohol. In addition to law enforcement, the initiatives target school personnel and employers in an effort to keep roads safer throughout the state.