When Robert Cox was a teenager attending Canyon del Oro High School, he watched as a girl died in a drunk driving collision.
Now known as Officer Cox, he spends his nights patrolling the streets as a member of the Oro Valley Police Department’s DUI enforcement unit, trying to prevent such a loss of life from happening on his watch.
“Even when I was new, I was finding drunk drivers, I had a knack for it,” he said. “I guess that I kind of know what to look for. I have always had a passion to get drunk drivers off of the road. It has always been something that I have wanted to get off of the street.”
Cox’s keen eye for intoxicated drivers recently earned him recognition from Mothers Against Drunk Driving Southern Arizona, which last month hosted its annual Honoring Heroes awards ceremony. Cox earned the title of DUI Officer of the Year, his second time earning the distinction.
MADD has maintained a presence in Tucson since 1982, and hosted its 28th annual awards to recognize law enforcement officers, other first responders and judicial personnel who make a difference on the roadways and in the court rooms.
“It’s all about DUI enforcement,” said Beverly Mason-Biggers, MADD Southern Arizona Affiliate Senior Programs Manager. “Finding the impaired drivers, and getting them off of the road. We see his name a lot as an arresting officer, and when we saw his nomination we knew that was someone we could recognize.”
Mason-Biggers said that Cox earned the distinction for the number of arrests he makes, how he treats civilians with whom he works and the thoroughness of his reporting, among other criteria.
For his part, Cox said that he has made just fewer than 300 DUI arrests in the three and a half years he has been assigned to DUI, averaging about 90 arrests a year. Cox also takes part in every bit of training he can, including advanced courses. He is a Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus test trainer, has completed advanced impaired driving enforcement training and is a drug recognition expert.
Though he has only been on the force for five years, Cox has made a strong impression on his department as well, which was responsible for his nomination for a MADD award.
“We continue to be proud of the work officer Cox is doing as an Oro Valley DUI officer,” said OVPD Interim Chief of Police Aaron LeSuer. “Officer Cox has brought a high level of expertise, passion and integrity to this position in his commitment to protecting the citizens throughout Pima County from impaired drivers.”
Before he was with the department, Cox was a longtime animal control officer with Pima County. Part of a long line of law enforcement personnel, Cox said he gravitated towards the role over time. Now that he has found a job he loves, he said there are no plans on leaving DUI patrol anytime soon, though he is considering a future with the department’s K9 officers.
Regardless of what assignment he holds, Cox said he just wants to continue making a difference in his community.
“Hopefully someday there won’t be a need for a DUI unit, but I just want to get them off of the road,” he said. “It’s a sense of satisfaction every time I make an arrest,. That this person didn’t kill somebody or themselves, or hurt somebody. That’s what keeps me going: people are going to drink and drive, I’m going to be out there to get them.”
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