Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Austin Watson has been named “Deputy of the Year” and “Drug Recognition Expert of the Year for Middle Tennessee” by the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

A drug recognition expert or drug recognition evaluator is a law enforcement officer specifically trained to recognize impairment in drivers under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

RCSO Deputy Ethan Shenefield received the Speed Enforcement Award from the Tennessee Highway Safety Office.

“Deputy Watson is dedicated to reducing traffic deaths and crashes through his enforcement efforts,” Sheriff Mike Fitzhugh said in a news release. “He reinforces the safety message through education of other law enforcement officers.

“Deputy Shenefield concentrates on encouraging drivers to obey the speed limits to prevent traffic deaths and crashes. Speeding is one of the major contributing factors in crashes.”

Watson is a drug recognition expert instructor and will assist with the Advance Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement training and eventually the DRE training.

RCSO Sgt. Nick Coble, who nominated Watson for Deputy of the Year, said Watson’s main focus has been geared toward impaired driving and traffic enforcement. He has earned two awards from Mothers Against Drunk Driving.

Watson helps instruct DUI classes at the Tennessee Law Enforcement Training Academy for new police officers. He teaches new sheriff’s deputies about radar.

Shenefield issued 375 speeding warnings and citations and conducted 355 traffic stops this year.

“He has a passion for highway safety and focuses on speeding,” RCSO Sgt. Michael Rodgers said in the news release. “He is always one of the first to volunteer to help with any campaigns of safety hot spots.”

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