U. of I. Police officer honored as ‘MADD Hero’

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — Mothers Against Drunk Driving this weekend honored U. of I. Police Officer Ryan Snow with their Hero Award in recognition of his efforts to deter drunken driving in Champaign County.

Snow was one of 28 officers in Illinois to receive the award. MADD noted that Snow has made more than 100 DUI arrests in six years with the University of Illinois Police Department. He made 33 DUI arrests last year alone.

In 2015, Snow took extra training classes to become a certified Drug Recognition Expert, making him one of about 50 such experts in the state and the only in Champaign County. The 200 hours of extra training sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration means he has a better sense of when a driver is impaired by drugs or alcohol and he can share that expert opinion in court testimony.

“Having a drug recognition expert on campus will hopefully help stop the issue of impaired driving,” Snow said after receiving that certification. “If students feel there is a greater chance of getting caught, they might not ever take the chance. This is my ultimate goal. If officers can help stop bad decisions before they are made, everyone becomes a litter safer.”

MADD also noted in its recognition that much of the department’s DUI-fighting equipment has been donated over the years by Jim and Barb Esworthy and their Journey Foundation. The Esworthys lost their two daughters in an accident caused by an impaired driver in 1997. Since then, their donations have been crucial in helping Champaign County law enforcement agencies fight DUI.

Snow’s efforts help to put that equipment to good use and to honor the memory of the Esworthys’ daughters, a MADD representative said.