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U.P. officers earn MADD honors

Efforts to combat drunken driving noted

From left, Marquette County Sheriff’s Office deputy Aaron Griffin and Ishpeming Police Department officer Kirby Frantti were honored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Michigan at its Lifesavers Award Luncheon June 7 in Mount Pleasant. Griffin received the Outstanding Deputy Award and Frantti the Outstanding Rookie of the Year Award at the ceremony to recognize their efforts in getting drunken and drugged drivers off the roads in their communities. (Photo courtesy of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office)

MARQUETTE — Driving drunk is the leading cause of death on our roadways and causes over 10,000 deaths annually. Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Michigan, which seeks to end drunken and drugged driving, recently honored two members of local law enforcement for their efforts to fight the reckless behavior in their communities.

Deputy Aaron Griffin, of the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office, and officer Kirby Frantti, of the Ishpeming Police Department, were honored June 7 at the MADD Michigan Lifesavers Award Luncheon in Mount Pleasant. Griffin received the Outstanding Deputy Award and Frantti received the Outstanding Rookie of the Year Award.

“Every year, we pause to honor the men and women whose achievements are truly outstanding in their field,” a statement from MADD Michigan reads. “With over 110 nominees this year, selecting the 2018 honorees was, again, no easy task.”

The two men were honored to receive their respective awards from MADD, they said.

“It was very rewarding to me and it was an honor to receive that award,” Griffin said, noting that he was proud to stand with distinguished officers from throughout the state when he received his award.

“It’s just an honor, it was special,” Frantti said of receiving the rookie award, noting he was humbled when he found out he was nominated for it.

Their respective departments are proud to see Griffin and Frantti receive the awards, said Marquette County Sheriff Greg Zyburt and Ishpeming Police Chief Steve Snowaert.

Officer Frantti has been “recognized for his enforcement actions that he’s done here in the city of Ishpeming,” Snowaert said, and he feels it’s a major honor for Frantti to be chosen for the state-level award.

“For him to be chosen, from all police agencies throughout Michigan, it’s a big award and it means a lot to us that he was recognized for this,” Snowaert said.

Zyburt said he is “extremely proud and honored to have (Griffin) represent our department and to have him as one of our deputies here in Marquette County,” noting it’s a huge honor for both Griffin and the Marquette County Sheriff’s Office.

Snowaert and Zyburt said the two men’s diligence in identifying and stopping drunken and drugged drivers has been key to their successes, as both Griffin and Frantti have made traffic enforcement a focus and passion in their careers.

Education has been a major part of it, Zyburt said.

“My job is to inspire these officers to get out there and be proactive and look for these drunk or drugged drivers,” he said, “and I do that through taking them to conferences or training and just educating them more about how to find them and what to look for.”

Griffin said visiting a traffic safety summit with Zyburt inspired him to focus on traffic enforcement, and to go through the extensive training to become a Drug Recognition Expert, or DRE. Becoming a DRE has given Griffin the tools to determine the particular class of substance under which an impaired driver is influenced.

Griffin, who started at the sheriff’s office part-time in 2012 and became a full-time employee in 2015, is passionate about impaired-driving enforcement and was glad to have the opportunity to undergo DRE training.

“This is a passion for me … and I took this very seriously,” Griffin said in a March 16 Mining Journal article about his DRE training.

The DRE training has “absolutely” helped him in his traffic patrol work, Griffin said, noting that he’s happy he can use his DRE training to assist other area law enforcement agencies.

“Every evaluation I do gives me more experience, helps train me what to look for,” he said.

Frantti, who won the award for his achievements in his first year of service, said training, education and support from the local law enforcement community helped him greatly.

“The entire law enforcement community in Marquette County, we all help each other out with any questions,” Frantti said. “As a department here, we all watch each others’ videos and read each others’ reports (to) get a better understanding of what a drunk driver looks like, what signs to look for.”

He says he wanted to be active in his community and prevent crime when he joined the force, noting he focused his first year as an officer on traffic patrol because he knew how many accidents are caused by drunken and impaired driving.

“Drunk driving in today’s world is just unacceptable,” Frantti said, noting that there are many ways to avoid drunk driving, such as calling a friend or family member, taxi or another service to get home safely.

For more information about MADD and how to prevent impaired driving, visit https://www.madd.org.

Cecilia Brown can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248.

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