Clarkdale sergeant, CV deputy honored for DUI work
Awards presented by Mothers Against Drunk Driving
VERDE VALLEY — A sergeant with almost two decades in law enforcement and a man who is relatively new to the field were both honored at a recent Mothers Against Drunk Driving ceremony.
Sgt. Nicole Florisi, of the Clarkdale Police Department, and Deputy Ty Wantland of the Camp Verde Marshal’s Office both received awards for their progress in the battle to keep intoxicated drivers off the roads.
Florisi was named MADD-Arizona’s 2019 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year, while Wantland was named as one a few dozen statewide “MADD Heroes” for his efforts.
Florisi said spotting impaired drivers is a huge key for patrol officers, as is education, like teaching the public to plan ahead in ways such as designating a driver.
“The ideal way we’re reducing the problem is not simply arresting people,” Florisi said. “It’s having checkpoints set up and letting people know, in other ways, that’s it not OK to drive impaired.”
Florisi, who is a part-time as a master patrolman with the Jerome Police Department, in addition to her full-time position as a sergeant in Clarkdale, was nominated by both departments, which work hand-in-hand servicing the neighboring communities.
Her role with the Jerome Police, over the past couple of years, has been mostly administrative, though she does still pull an actual shift there from time to time. She manages the participation in state-funded grants with the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety for both agencies.
With these grant funds, Jerome and Clarkdale, the departments have been able to provide targeted enforcement efforts in and around the two communities. Jerome has had an increase in arrests for driving under the influence of more than 33 percent since 2014, along with an increase of other criminal traffic offenses of 50 percent in that span.
In Clarkdale, DUI arrests have increased 133 percent since 2014, while criminal traffic offenses increased 867 percent in that same period.
Since Jerome and Clarkdale sometimes share supervisors, Florisi is often the only supervisor available for consult by officers of both Jerome and Clarkdale, sharing with officers her vast experience in traffic enforcement, DUI prevention and apprehension, along with her experience as a drug recognition officer.
The written nomination for Florisi’s award – which is hardly the first recognition of her career – said her guidance has often aided officers in making the correct decisions in regard to probable cause or elements of the crime needed for successful prosecution of DUI cases. Her supervision is credited as a factor in helping officers taking a more pro-active approach in prevention of DUIs.
When Florisi and other Jerome and Clarkdale officers engage in foot patrols in one of the towns’ business districts, countless DUIs can be prevented from occurring, through alternative transportation means being provided.
“No one enjoys getting pulled over, or confronted,” Florisi said. “But it only takes one bad wreck to change many lives, and the time someone is taken off the road could save lives.”
Wantland said it was that very turmoil – the kind only wrought from having family affected by a drunk-driving wreck – that motivated him to go into law enforcement in the first place.
“I’ve seen the family’s side of that impact,” Wantland said. “I wanted to be out here doing what I could to help ensure the roads are safe.
Wantland’s first employment as an officer was with the Yavapai-Apache Police Department. He soon left to join the Camp Verde Marshals Office in December of last year, as a lateral transfer, and almost immediately, he began to have an impact on patrols on the DUI front.
He’s conducted more than 244 traffic stops, and as of the time he was nominated for the MADD honor, those stops had led to six arrests. Since January, Wantland has contacted and arrested seven DUI drivers. Camp Verde, as a whole, had 21 DUI arrests since January.
Wantland recently participated in two DUI enforcement details, as well as one selective traffic enforcement, or STEP, detail, conducted by the Marshals Office with funding provided by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.
His nomination reads “Deputy Wantland inspires his peers as well as his subordinates by continually striving to maintain and uphold the high standards of this department.”
Wantland furthered his DUI enforcement skills by attending Advance Roadside Impaired Driving (ARIDE) training in July, learning valuable differences between behaviors of vehicle occupants who are under the influence of various drugs.
Camp Verde Sgt. Daniel Jacobs said the department tends to have more drunk drivers who are local, as opposed to the high volume of travelers passing through town. He said between training, sick days and other aspects that take officers off the street, it’s tough to have the presence the department would like to have at all times.
Wantland agreed and said a police presence is almost as big of a drunk-driving deterrent as arrests.
“We will always want to have a few more units out there, so people know we’re there, and that we’re watching drivers,” Wantland said.