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MADD commends sheriff's deputies

Several Jackson County sheriff’s deputies were awarded for their efforts in stopping impaired drivers from tragedy — as well as drugged and drunken drivers before it starts.

Deputies Cody Ponder, Aaron Grissom and Adam Osborne were recognized Wednesday by Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Oregon for Outstanding Efforts in DUII Enforcement, Investigation and Education.

Ponder alone made a third of the sheriff’s office’s roughly 300 impaired driving arrests last year, at 102 arrests plus 25 successful drug recognition evaluations since getting certified last June, according to Sheriff Nathan Sickler and MADD Oregon Program Specialist Cate Duke. “That’s impressive,” Duke said.

Ponder has previously received life saving awards from the Oregon State Sheriff’s Association and the county for his efforts, Duke said at the ceremony.

Osborne made 11 DUII arrests and performed 7 evaluations while working a day shift so others on the team could focus on impaired driving, Duke said at a ceremony Wednesday at Sheriff’s Office headquarters in Central Point.

“That allowed Dep. Ponder to have the time to really focus and accomplish what he was able to accomplish,” Duke said.

Grissom had 44 impaired driving arrests in 2019, eight drug recognition evaluations.

Osborne said Ponder joined the sheriff’s office’s patrol division a few years ago after transferring from Albany, and immediately “hit the ground running.” Ponder frequently speaks at area high schools, and to criminology students at Southern Oregon University.

“He’s trying to prevent (arrests) from happening instead causing them locally,” Osborne said.

Ponder said he recently spoke to Crater High School freshmen in Central Point about the dangers of impaired driving before the teens get their learners’ permits.

The deputies led a short class with Southern Oregon University criminology students focused on impaired driving, in which he shared some of the physiology a drug recognition evaluator watches for to determine whether someone is impaired, and how.

Ponder said criminology students took to the various details about measuring pupil size, blood pressure, pulse and psychomotor skills.

Many people understand the national .08 blood-alcohol limit, but not necessarily the meaning of “impairment,” Ponder said, describing it as operating a vehicle in a state “less than optimal.”

Sheriff Nathan Sickler commended the “significant team effort” that led to the three deputies’ recognitions for their efforts, plus efforts across the department including patrol Lt. Scott Waldon and traffic team Sgt. Heath Kocina.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Deputy Cody Ponder made a third of the Jackson County Sheriff's Office DUII arrests in 2019. Mail Tribune photo / Nick Morgan