WPD patrolman honored by Transportation Cabinet

Published 10:59 am Friday, March 10, 2023

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When police officers take the oath, they dedicate themselves to serving the community.

In more ways than one, Patrolman Blake Gabbard has certainly done that.

Gabbart was recognized among fellow officers with the 2022 Governor’s Award for Impaired Driving Enforcement.

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The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet presents the award.

“I wasn’t trying to push for a certain number to get the award or try to win the award,” said Gabbard. “It was just [about] getting the ones I could catch off the streets whether that saved that person’s life who I arrested or somebody else’s.”

Originally from Beattyville, located in Lee County and approximately one hour from Winchester, Gabbard came to the city in December 2018.

Since then, he has remained busy.

While on patrol, Gabbard may be called and dispatched to many scenarios – such as a domestic disturbance call or a lost dog found on the street.

However, looking after the streets when most Winchester residents are nestled in bed is typical.

Though the number of encounters an officer has with impaired drivers can vary based on several factors, it’s not uncommon.

“I could say that an officer can easily find one or two DUIs in a night,” he said. “Whether it be a Monday or a Friday…that doesn’t really matter either.”

Yet it’s not only those who are innocent that may be harmed by drivers under the influence – including animals, families, or even children – but also the drivers themselves who Gabbard must look out for.

“Arresting that person could have potentially saved their life because impaired driving is probably the most dangerous thing on the road other than being sleepy and driving,” Gabbard said. “[By] taking them off the street, they didn’t wreck and kill themselves. They didn’t run over somebody, or they didn’t hit somebody head-on or have a collision with somebody else in some other manner.”

For such reasons, winning the award does not come first and foremost in Gabbard’s mind.

Though excited, he’s also relatively modest and focused on the work.

“As far as getting the award, it’s not [more] important to me…than getting the drunk drivers or impaired drivers, whether it be drunk or alcohol off the street”, he said.

While the Beattyville native might be miles from home, he also sees Winchester as a place for long-term service.

“This is my first agency. I started here, and I’ll probably retire here. That goes to show how much I like Winchester”, he added. “It’s a bigger city from what I’m used to back home, but it feels like it’s a small town just because [of] how everybody is out in the community and how this department is run.”