For the third year, an RCMP police officer in Prince Rupert is being acknowledged for her road safety initiative.
Between Const. Virginia Bessette and Const. Jae Kim, a total of 39 impaired drivers were taken off the road in 2015 and due to their efforts both police officers were included in the provincial program called Alexa’s Team.
Alexa’s Team began in 2008, after four-year-old Alexa Middelaer was struck and killed by a drunk driver while feeding a horse in rural residential area in south Surrey.
Alexa’s aunt was also hit but she survived the incident. Alexa’s parents were nearby and came after the crash.
“We saw the aftermath of everything, which is really hard to see and that’s why when we recognize these police officers we understand that they do see the underbelly and they do see tragic events like this,” said Alexa’s mother, Laurel.
When the family learned that drinking and driving was the cause of the accident they worked to change the laws to keep impaired drivers off the road.
“We were able to work with government and assist with the implementation of the IRP (immediate roadside prohibition) program, which gave officers an immediate roadside consequence for drivers who blew to fail,” she said.
The IRP program minimizes court time and the driver faces immediate consequences for blowing to fail (over 0.08), including a 90-day driving ban, $500 fine, 30-day vehicle impoundment and more.
The total cost would be $4,060 for the driver.
When a police officer in B.C. takes 12 or more drivers off the road for impaired driving they are included in Alexa’s Team and recognized for their service.
“In any community drinking and driving is such a selfish act and you’re not just going out there with the potential of hurting yourself you can hurt anybody and so many people get seriously injured or killed in drinking and driving incidences,” Const. Bessette said. “It’s avoidable, just take a cab or walk.”
When Laurel and her family launched Alexa’s Team and pushed to have the laws changed they set a family goal of a 35 per cent reduction of impaired driving related deaths. In the past two years, there has been a 52 per cent reduction in alcohol-related driving fatalities.
Since Alexa’s Team was created in 2008, there police officer membership has grown from 26 to 1,639 new and returning RCMP and Municipal police officers from across the province.