KINGSTON — The Rhode Island Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) recognized University of Rhode Island Police Officer Michael Intrieri this year for his efforts to prevent drunk driving.
Recently, Intrieri was presented with MADD’s Overall Achievement Award in the category of Law Enforcement DUI Officer — a recognition no other officer in the state received this year.
Although he may be serving a college campus, the majority of drunk driving arrests he made this year weren’t students, but people driving near campus along Route 138. Intrieri arrested more than 13 individuals for driving under the influence after submitting to a breath test in 2019. Several more refused to be breathalyzed but were still arrested.
“There were numerous nominations for the award,” according to Rhode Island MADD Executive Director Sean Cassidy, “but Officer Intrieri stood out due to his accomplishments in his field, and the hard work he has done in the community.”
Intrieri, who is specially trained in the detection of operators under the influence, is committed to preventing drunken and drugged driving.
“Being vigilant about drunken driving makes the campus much safer, and protects the members of our URI community,” he said.
His accomplishments in preventing drunk driving have also been recognized and praised internally in his department, as well.
URI Police Maj. Michael Jagoda believes the award not only recognizes his achievements but also celebrates his hard work, dedication and professionalism.
It “showcases his commitment to educating the community about the consequences of operating a motor vehicle under the influence,” Jagoda said. “It’s made our roadways safer for motorists and pedestrians and our campus community safer as a whole.”
“Officer Intrieri’s success is a combination of him feeling passionate about this issue and having received education and specialty training in this field,” he added.
His education and specialty in the field come from Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement (ARIDE) training — a program that has become more accessible to Rhode Island police officers in recent years thanks to grant funding from the Governor’s Highway Safety Association and the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility.
From Sept. 2018 to June 2019, the Rhode Island Department of Transportation Office on Highway Safety was able to provide ARIDE training to a maximum of 15 officers a month. Before this, the training was only available twice a year and had a class capacity of 17 students.
Monthly training offerings began again in August, making it Rhode Island’s most successful yearly training calendar in drug-impaired driving classes.
Next month, Intrieri will begin his Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) training, which focuses on what interactions between different drugs look like in motorists, specifically narcotics. He also has extensive training in field sobriety testing, and roadside field testing, according to Jagoda.
“Times are changing, and we are seeing an increase in operators under the influence of drugs rather than alcohol,” said Jagoda. “We need to prepare our officers to have that specialty training to make sure our roadways are safe.”
Part of Intrieri’s DRE training will include traveling to Arizona for specialty training in prisons. This was all made possible in part by URI Police Capt. Michael Chalek’s efforts in securing grant funding. Because of this, according to Jagoda, the department was recognized by the Rhode Island Department of Transportation’s Office on Highway Safety to send Officer Intrieri to that training.
In addition to his efforts of getting drunk and drugged drivers off the road, Intrieri is also involved with the university’s Citizen Police Academy. The program teaches the community about the ramifications of driving under the influence, the different levels of intoxication through the use of drunk goggles, and how reaction time, perception, impairment, and overall decision making are affected by drugs and alcohol.
“It’s our mission to have safe roadways for everyone, including our visitors,” Jagoda said
This is especially important, he added, because of the changing demographics of transportation on campus. In the month since the new bike path was completed, more students have begun riding bicycles.
“We know the consequences of people driving under the influence, and the damage they can do,” he said. “It’s our goal to prevent these circumstances.”