More than 50 people filled Riehle Plaza on Thursday evening to pay tribute to victims of alcohol-related crashes and commend the police officers that work to keep impaired drivers off the road.
The annual Mothers Against Drunk Driving candlelight memorial vigil was held in conjunction with the 2010 MADD "Top Cop" awards ceremony Thursday night in downtown Lafayette.
Dan Towery, president of the West Central Indiana chapter of MADD, said this is the first time the two programs have been held at the same time. They were held in conjunction with National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
In addition to remembering friends and family, Towery said the vigil serves as a way to inform residents of the dangers of drinking and driving, referencing some of the drinking that will be taking place near Purdue University during Grand Prix weekend.
"There's nothing wrong with having a little fun," he said. "But there is a fine line between having fun and having too much."
During the event, 13 local law enforcement officers were honored as "Top Cops" for making 20 or more operating while intoxicated arrests in 2010.
Collectively, all five law enforcement agencies in Tippecanoe County -- the sheriff's department and Lafayette, West Lafayette, Purdue University and Indiana State Police -- arrested 983 people for impaired driving in 2010.
That's up slightly from 979 arrests in 2009.
The ceremony also featured a photo gallery of individuals killed or injured in crashes.
Tippecanoe County Prosecutor Pat Harrington thanked the officers for their service and reminded them that the people they protect rarely get the opportunity to say "thank you."
"The victims don't get the chance to see the officer who was there for them in their time of need," he said. "With every drunk driver you take off the road ... you make somebody safe."
The following officers received plaques for making 20 or more OWI arrests. They are listed along with the department they work for the number of arrests made in 2010:
Lafayette Police Department
Blake Switzer (25) and Adam Mellady (23)
West Lafayette Police Department
Stason Wiete (27) and James Spray (24)
Indiana State Police, Lafayette district
Darrick Scott (45), Kent Wainscott (35), Sean Schaefer (30) and Kyle Herron (25)
Purdue University Police
Song Kang (26)
Tippecanoe County Sheriff's Office
Matthew Couch (24), Robert Hainje (27), Christopher Boesch (24) and Andrew Heath (21)