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Meridian school resource officer recognized for keeping kids away from drugs

Officer Leroy Sunada has been a Meridian police officer for 15 years and serves as the school resource officer to six schools.

CALDWELL, Idaho — A special awards ceremony was held Thursday to recognize a Meridian police officer for his leadership and dedication to make a difference in our community.

The Idaho State Elks Association Drug Awareness Program presented the Enrique "Kiki" Camarena Award to Meridian School Resource Officer Leroy Sunada.

Sunada has been a Meridian police officer for 15 years and serves as the school resource officer to six schools in Meridian. He was recognized for his involvement with the Meridian Anti-Drug Coalition.

"These kids are growing up, they're making decisions that aren't based on life experience yet and so we try to bring that experience to them, try to guide them through that process,” Sunada said. “Really keep them out of the juvenile system, but more importantly keep them away from drugs, share the dangers."

The award is in honor of 11-year veteran DEA Special Agent Enrique Camarena who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered by the Mexican drug cartel in 1985. As a loving husband and a father of three children, he dedicated his life to drug prevention and education. Since his death, his legacy has inspired millions of Americans to lead a drug-free life and his memory celebrated by this annual award.

“It's a huge honor, I've seen some of the past recipients and those are huge shoes to fill so I'm very humbled and honored to have received that award," Sunada said.

"While every officer is here to serve the community, Officer Sunada is one of those officers who stands out. He has always put others before him in his service to our kids, schools and community," said Meridian Police Chief Tracy Basterrechea. "Being awarded the Enrique 'Kiki' Camarena Award is just one more indication of the positive impact Leroy has on some of our most vulnerable members of our community."

The ceremony was held at the Caldwell Elks Lodge. A bust of the DEA agent the award was named for will be displayed at Meridian Police Department until October.

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