This year, we wanted to illustrate the significance of Mothers Against Drunk Driving State-Wide recognition and, most importantly, highlight the Heroes among us!
In this interview, we feature Officer Ashley Eller with the Apopka Police Department. Officer Eller was the 2017 top honoree for MADD Hero for Drugged Driving Enforcement.
Officer Eller was nominated by APD Officer, Samuel Anderson. Her nomination reads:
Officer Eller has demonstrated a consistent passion for impaired driving enforcement. Officer Eller is our go-to person for all things DUI, especially when intoxicants other than alcohol may be involved.
Officer Eller seeks and obtains advanced training, including completing the DRE course during 2016. Officer Eller also taught the NHTSA 24-hour SFSE course twice in 2016, and taught six new hire DUI enforcement classes in-house. Officer Eller conducted 21 DRE evaluations during 2016, including one medical rule-out for high blood sugar.
Officer Eller has been a member of our Traffic/Traffic Homicide Unit for five years. Officer Eller never hesitates to look beyond alcohol as a contributing factor in DUI investigations. Her knowledge and expertise make her an invaluable asset to our agency and our Traffic Unit. We therefore nominate Officer Ashley Eller “MADD Hero for Drugged Driving Enforcement.”
We recently met with Officer Eller and asked her for a bit more information.
- What was the significance/meaning of receiving Top Honoree at the 2017 MADD Florida Recognition Ceremony?
For me, it’s been a passion project. I became a DRE in 2016. Being nominated means that I am doing something right and making an impact in my community as well as honoring the DRE program.
- What was your reaction when you found out you were nominated?
Honored doesn’t even begin to describe my reaction when I realized I was the top honoree. I was on the same list as amazing DRE’s who are my heroes and mentors. I mean ‘wow’!
- How did it feel when you found out you won?
I thought I heard it wrong. Funny story; I didn’t buy my wife a ticket because I thought there was no way I was going to win this. So, when they called my name, I thought my wife isn’t here, and boy am I in trouble, but at least Tim Cornelius, my hero, was in the audience. As I was walking back to my seat after receiving the award, Tim stood up to congratulate and hug me. I had such a feeling of pride – one of the coolest things to happen to me. And, proud that someone of his caliber was happy that I received the award especially since I was a brand-new DRE!
- What led you to become a DRE?
I believe in safer roadways and that drivers have a choice, and their choices affect others. A big part for me was becoming a part of the Keri Anne DeMott Foundation. Having people hear Bill DeMott share his story is changing lives and choices. I believe that DRE’s inspire that. I knew I wanted to be a DRE since 2006. I did ride-a-longs with an old-time DRE and saw him make a difference. I wanted to be like him and be the change – hopefully making the world a better place.
I owe a lot to the Keri Anne Demott Foundation. They paid for me to attend the 2018 IPTM Symposium on Traffic Safety. I want to make a difference for her. My goal is to make 100 DUI arrests this year. Her story inspires more cops than Bill will ever understand.
- If you could do one thing, leave one mark in the community, what would it be?
I want to teach. Education is empowerment – it can change people. Teach a cop or an offender, and it will change the world. When I walk into my local hospital ER, the physician’s assistant will say, “Ok what are you going to teach me today.” I enjoy teaching and hope to give people a better understanding of what we do as a DRE’s. There is so much to having drugs in the body and why it’s unsafe; especially poly-drug use. If I can educate and explain the complex job of a DRE, then I’ve done my job. I like to watch young cops that I teach when their eyes get big as I explain DUI’s. I mean, what are we here for if we don’t empower people?
- Will you be attending this year’s ceremony?
Absolutely wouldn’t miss it. I want to celebrate my brothers and sisters accomplishments!
My biggest take away is education is empowerment – doing the right thing is always worth it; every single time.