2 Alle-Kiski Valley state troopers named "Top Guns" by Pennsylvania DUI Association
Two Alle-Kiski Valley state troopers are among 81 officers named “Top Guns” by the state's DUI Association for 2012.
State police Cpl. Christopher Robbins is assigned to the Kittanning station. Trooper Craig K. Johnson is based at Butler.
Last year, driving under the influence crashes increased from 11,805 in 2011 to 11,956 alcohol-related crashes. Driving under the influence deaths decreased from 428 in 2011 to 404 last year.
“But any deaths are unacceptable,” said Trooper Andrew Reed, a statewide state police spokesman.
Robbins and Johnson are drug recognition experts who are often asked by troopers or local officers to determine if charges should be filed for people who display indicators of impairment, but they don't have a blood alcohol level exceeding the state's 0.08 percent limit.
Drug recognition experts have specialized training and used a standardized multi-step process that includes blood pressure readings and other tests done at a hospital, Robbins said.
The process usually takes about an hour to complete for each suspect.
“I love it,” said Robbins, who patrols Route 28 and Armstrong County and who became a state trooper in 2001.
Records show Robbins made 75 DUI arrests in 2012.
Johnson, who enlisted as a trooper in 2006, made 69 arrests.
“I patrol all of Butler County except where they have a municipal department,” Johnson said.
He, too, likes the directly combatting drunken or drugged driving.
Statewide, troopers made 17,782 DUI arrests in 2012.
Most are for people suspected of driving under the influence of drugs rather than drunken driving, Robbins said.
“We see a ton of opiate use in the Valley. There is also a lot of prescription drug abuse,” he said.
During the past two years, about 70 percent impaired driver arrests were for people who were driving while under the influence of illegal drugs, such as heroin and marijuana, or misusing legal drugs, Robbins said.
Commonly misused medicines include methadone, a synthetic opiate used to get people off heroin; Xanax, a medicine developed to treat anxiety and panic disorders; Klonopin, normally used to control seizures or treat panic disorders; and Neurontin, a medicine for nerve pain and numbness.
In addition to Robbins and Johnson, the DUI Association honored Troopers Andrew Reith and Bryan Schutz, both assigned to patrol at Pittsburgh Troop B.
Reith, who enlisted in 2007, made 57 DUI arrests last year. Shutz, who enlisted in 1992, made 54 arrests.
Chuck Biedka is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-226-4711 or [email protected].