ELKHART — When police patrol officers are on duty and aren't responding to a call for service, many of them drive around watching for intoxicated drivers and other traffic infractions.
Lt. Casey Lehman of the Elkhart County Sheriff's Department has caught more intoxicated drivers than any other sheriff's deputy for the past five years.
In 2013, he arrested 100 people for operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He caught 123 the year before.
Lehman was one of nine officers honored by the Elkhart County Drug Free Partnership for his work protecting Elkhart County motorists from intoxicated drivers.
Elkhart County Sheriff Brad Rogers said Lehman "has an eagle eye" for spotting intoxicated drivers.
"I target areas that I know from experience I can typically get them," he said.
Then he'll follow cars, watching for driving behaviors that might indicate the driver is intoxicated, such as running stop signs, unsafe lane movements and cars driving too fast or too slow.
Because he works on the midnight shift, he's more likely to find these drivers.
"Drug-intoxicated drivers you can find any time," he said. "Alcohol-intoxicated drivers are more frequent between 10 p.m. and 3:30 or 4 a.m."
For the last two years, he's set a personal goal to catch 100 people operating while intoxicated and last year went in to work on days off to make sure he would hit it.
This year, Lehman says he won't hit his goal.
He's off patrol duty for about three months due to an injury sustained playing basketball.
"I'm itching to get back out there," he said.
The other officers honored by the Elkhart Drug Free Partnership this year are:
- Adam Dernay, Bristol Police Department
- Jason Ray, Elkhart Police Department
- Chris Waddell, Goshen Police Department
- Tony Schmucker, Nappanee Police Department
- Tom Sheline, Millersburg Police Department
- Gary Smith, Middlebury Police Department
- Gretchen Deal, Indiana State Police
- David Newland, Wakarusa Police Department