There were about 25 people there, liaisons and representatives from all kinds of different agencies across Oregon, including Oregon State Police, Oregon Transportation Safety Committee, Oregon State Sheriff's Association, Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor, Addictions and Mental Health Division, Dept of Public Safety, Standards and Training, Driver and Motor Vehicle Services, DUII Multi-Disciplinary Task Force, Oregon Association of Chiefs of Police, Oregon District Attorney's Association, Oregon Judicial Dept, and and Oregon Liquor Control Board. An article I read also stated that DUII drivers and victims of DUII drivers were members also, but I believe I was the only victim's family there.
|Chuck Hayes, Chairman GAC|
At the start of each monthly meeting, committee members take a moment of silence, led by Chairman Chuck Hayes, retired Oregon State Police Captain, and now one of two national coordinators and a trainer for the Drug Recognition Expert Program. “It is for the people that lost their lives or have been seriously injured by an impaired driver,” Hayes said. “Let’s remember what we do here.”
It felt amazing for me to sit in on this committee with all the professionals (25). It was wonderful to hear the discussions that clearly demonstrated that these people take DUII seriously and really want to prevent further devastation on the roads and to families. It was clear that there is no clear cut answer to anything, that things that seem commonsense to me and a "no brainer" are controversial or unconstitutional or ... all kinds of things I'd never thought of.
Take (part of) the first topic today: the definition of the word "intoxicants." Should they use "drug"? No, that probably narrows it down too much. Should they use "any impairing substance"?
They talked about the increasing likelihood of marijuana becoming legal in Oregon and how they are researching other state's laws and what is happening in Washington and Colorado, what is working and what isn't and what surprises have come up and how to avoid them.
There was much, much more. Every person there (except newbie me) was valued and specifically asked for their input and given things to do. Everyone was admonished to "think outside the box." Everyone was encouraged to think about events or outreach that could result in media coverage that would increase awareness and knowledge with the public.
I was very impressed, very humbled, and made to feel welcome. Maybe I have more to offer than just being a bereaved mom. I'm wracking my own brain to think outside the box. I can't wait to go back next month.