Memorial Awards

Michael J. Garner Memorial Award

Sgt. Garner co-founded the Oklahoma Buckledown Awards Program. This award represents the leadership and commitment he lived throughout his service to Oklahomans. The Michael J. Garner Safety Advocate Award was created to single out one individual each year that has demonstrated exceptional dedication in increasing public safety throughout their department and community.

Nicholas Dees Memorial Award

Named in honor of Trooper Nicholas Dees #731, a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol from July 2013 to January 2015. On the evening of January 31, 2015, Trooper Dees and Trooper Keith Burch were investigating a collision involving a semi-truck on westbound Interstate 40 when a vehicle went around the patrol vehicles before striking both Troopers. Trooper Dees died at the scene and Trooper Burch suffered serious injuries.

The driver of the vehicle that struck the Troopers had been texting back and forth with a woman that he had met on the internet and was on his way to see another woman that he had met online. His daughter was in the back seat of the vehicle at the time of the crash. After Trooper Dees death, the State of Oklahoma passed a law that specifically prohibits texting and driving.

This Memorial Award was created to remember Trooper Nicholas Dees and to honor all Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officers, Deputies, and Troopers whose lives were taken in traffic collisions while protecting the citizens of Oklahoma. This award is intended to recognize law enforcement officers who have used innovative techniques to enforce the traffic laws in the State of Oklahoma.

Fabrienne VanArsdell Memorial Award

Named in honor of Officer Fabrienne VanArsdell, a member of the Tulsa Police Department from 1976 to 1981. On the evening of July 25, 1981, officer VanArsdell stopped a motorist at 6300 South Lewis Ave. While checking the driver’s record on the police radio in her car, her vehicle was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by an intoxicated driver. The doors of her police car were jammed shut by the collision and her unit burst into flames. Officer VanArsdell died in the fire. The other driver had a previous DUI arrest, and after a short jail term for this collision, he had a subsequent arrest for DUI.

This award was created in February of 1994 for the first Buckledown Awards Program, to remember officer VanArsdell and to honor all Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officers, Deputies, and Troopers whose lives were taken in traffic collisions while serving their communities. It is also intended to remind all officers of the importance of traffic enforcement and traffic safety. In 2001 the focus of this award was changed to Occupant Protection to help increase the enforcement of Seat Belt and Child Restraint laws and to promote the use of occupant protection by adults and children.

Don Byerley Memorial Award

This award was named in honor of Sgt. Don Byerley, a member of the Tulsa Police Department from 1969 to 1980. On the evening of October 12, 1980, Sgt. Byerley stopped a traffic violator on Interstate 244 near the Delaware exit. While parked on the side of the road his police car was struck from behind by a vehicle driven by an impaired driver, who was also driving without a driver’s license. Sgt. Byerley was gravely injured in the crash and remained in a coma for two months. He died from his injuries on December 15, 1980.

This award was created in February of 1994 for the first Buckledown Awards Program, to remember Sgt. Byerley and to honor all Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officers, Deputies, and Troopers whose lives have been taken by drivers impaired by alcohol and other drugs. This award is also intended to encourage Oklahoma law enforcement officers to aggressively enforce the laws relating to driving under the influence or impaired by alcohol and other drugs.

Matthew Scott Evans Memorial Award

Named in honor of Trooper Matthew Scott Evans #895, a member of the Oklahoma Highway Patrol from August 1999 to August 2000. On the evening of August 21, 2000, Trooper Evans was traveling westbound on Interstate 40 when he was hit head-on by a vehicle fleeing from Oklahoma City Police Officer Jeff Rominger.

The eluding vehicle entered the off-ramp from I-40 and May Avenue continuing eastbound in the westbound lanes of I-40. About 30 seconds later, while traveling in the inside lane, the fleeing vehicle struck a tractor-trailer rig that had just topped the crest of a hill. Trooper Evans, responding to another trooper’s call for assistance and unaware of the pursuit, collided with the fleeing vehicle within a second of the first impact. Almost simultaneously, Officer Rominger’s car crashed into the wreckage from the other direction and both police vehicles erupted in fire, killing both officers.

Throughout his short career Trooper Evans was known as an outspoken advocate for traffic safety and had committed his life to making Oklahoma’s roads safer for everyone.

This Memorial Award was created in 2001 to remember Trooper Matthew Scott Evans and to honor all Oklahoma Law Enforcement Officers, Deputies, and Troopers whose lives were taken in traffic collisions while protecting the citizens of Oklahoma. This award is also intended to serve as a reminder to all law enforcement officers of the importance of traffic safety and traffic enforcement in our state.