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San Diego’s Finest honored in awards ceremony

Law enforcement saw a sharp spike in the number of DUI drivers they arrested in the last year. MADD honored prosecutors and officers’ efforts in a special ceremony.

SAN DIEGO — Honoring San Diego’s Finest, MADD, or Mothers Against Drunk Driving held its first Law Enforcement Recognition Awards Ceremony and Breakfast at the Town and Country Resort, where over 80 officers were celebrated.

“America is being safe because of these people here who are working out there,” said San Diego Sheriff Tony Ray.

CBS 8’s Heather Hope served as the event’s emcee that recognized police officers, deputies and district attorneys and MADD volunteers, who made a difference in cracking down on DUI drivers.

The awards included “Outstanding prosecutor,” which went to Deputy City Attorney Matthew Starr, who is the lead prosecutor of the city’s specialized Drug DUI vertical prosecution team taking on thousands of DUI cases a year.

Outstanding Rookie of the year goes to Oceanside Police officer Jordan Sadler for making 20 DUI arrests.

“There are too many innocent lives that have been taken at the hands of DUI drivers, so knowing that I can go out there and stop that and be proactive to see it before it happens, it is a really great feeling,” said Sadler, who had to work a swing shift following the ceremony until 1 a.m.

MADD awarded Carlsbad Police officer Tyler Hubka as the “Top Cop” for making 223 DUI arrests, the most DUI arrests in all of San Diego County.

“It is very special to me because in my opinion DUI arrests are some of the most important arrests that a police officer can make, and you are potentially saving multiple lives with every single arrest,” said Hubka, who also received the “Double Century” award for achieving the 200 DUI arrests benchmark.

Motorcycle rider Bruce Mezan was the featured speaker, who talked about how officers saved his life in 2020 when a drunk driver t-boned him at a 4-way stop in Oilvehain, Encinitas, where he lost his right leg and now wears a prosthetic.

“All my ribs were broken, my pelvis was broken in many pieces, I lost my spleen, lacerated my kidney, got pneumonia, had a collapsed lung, and a blood infection, two brain bleeds and spent one week in a coma,” said Mezan, who was on his was to teach a motorcycle safety course at 6:30 a.m. when he was hit by a truck.

The 25-year-old drunk driver, who hit Mezan, is now serving 4 years in state prison.

“You feel bad for these people who go out and make this horrible mistake and destroy their lives. it It feels like a calling for me now to try to make a difference,” Mezan said.

Kim Christianson, the MADD San Diego affiliate programs and development manager says these awards continue the organization’s mission since 1980 that “every arrest made is a life saved.”

“Really it is our way of showing our support for them and really thanking them for the work that they do. DUIs are not just the checkpoint that you see driving down the road, it is so much more than that, and it takes such a large community effort to not only keep our roadway safe but to also prosecute,” Christianson said.

WATCH RELATED: City approves pay increase for SDPD as more officers leave for other jobs (June 2022)