The Madison Employee of the Month for July is being recognized for bringing a program to Madison High School that the mayor said will save lives.
Members of Madison's governing body praised the efforts of Madison Police Patrolman Chad Rybka after hearing a presentation on the "Every 15 Minutes" program that Rybka brought to Madison High School in March.
"Every 15 Minutes" is a national program designed to educate students about the dangers of drunk driving.
In his presentation, Rybka thanked Police Chief John Trevena, Lt. Darren Dachisen, the Board of Education and Superintendent Dr. Michael Rossi for their support.
He said the two-day program was funded by the Board of Education, Madison Alliance Addressing Substance Abuse and private donors. It also depended on the participation of numerous other volunteers and organizations.
Rybka said it challenges students to think about the dangers of drunk driving, and aims to decrease the chance students will drink and drive, and embolden students to take a stand if their friends or parents are making risky decisions.
The program, which is given to juniors and seniors, includes realistic simulations and teaches through experience and emotion, not lectures or homework, Rybka said.
The presentation, given at the June 11 Borough Council meeting, includes a video of the two-day program created by film students at Fairleigh Dickinson University and can be seen in a recording of the meeting.
Mayor Bob Conley said his son participated in the program.
"This whole program just reinforces the value of our children and take nothing for granted," he said. "I can guarantee that you saved lives in the future by doing this."
Council President Jeannie Tsukamoto thanked Rybka for going above and beyond his duties.
Councilwoman Carmela Vitale also thanked Rybka.
"I'm very proud that we have young officers like this that bring a message like this," Vitale said.
Councilman Rob Catalanello said he would support expanding the program for more students. He said one his roommates at Villanova, a Madison resident, died in a car accident and he saw how it ripped the family apart.
"Even if this saves just one life, it's worthwhile," he said. "If we can expand the program for more students, I'd certainly be in support of that because I will never forget that and I never want to see it happen to anyone again."