First-ever Jeff Tobin Award goes to outstanding Drug Recognition student

By Keith Sharon

They met once when they were student and teacher. They exchanged phone numbers when the teacher said the student could give him a call any time he needed help.

“I will never erase that phone number out of my phone…,” said Haldor Larum, 29, an Irvine Police officer, “…out of respect to Jeff Tobin.”

Tobin, 58, the inspiring instructor/detective from the Anaheim Police Department, died of a brain stem tumor in October. His legacy will be honored in a duel effort by the Anaheim and Fullerton police departments.

Thursday, Larum was given the first-ever Jeff Tobin Award as the outstanding student in the Drug Recognition Expert program hosted by the Fullerton Police. The program, which was Tobin’s passion, instructs police officers from around Orange County in the science of drug and alcohol impairment.

In six DRE tests administered over two weeks, Larum only had two wrong answers. He was given the award in a surprise ceremony Thursday.

“I was very surprised and very honored,” Larum said.

Sgt. Matt Ziemba (left) accepts the Jeff Tobin Award on behalf of Jeff’s wife, Laurie Ann ,given by Sgt. Radus. Photo by Stacy Schwed/Behind the Badge OC

Sgt. Matt Ziemba (left) accepts the Jeff Tobin Award on behalf of Jeff’s wife, Laurie Ann, given by Sgt. Jon Radus. Photo by Stacy Schwed/Behind the Badge OC

Because it combines science, psychology and street smarts, it is one of the more difficult courses any police officer can take. The people who knew Tobin said he was a genius at drug recognition.

“This award is a wonderful thing,” said Sgt. Matt Ziemba, who was Tobin’s supervisor in Anaheim. “It is a poignant reminder of who he was.”

Ziemba also was given a plaque Thursday that he will present to the Tobin family.

Tobin joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1980 and served as a patrol officer. He left the LAPD to pursue a career in law.

After graduating from law school, Tobin worked in the Anaheim City Attorney’s Office for 18 years.

While he was prosecuting cases, he began taking DRE classes along with police officers. At the same time, he was a reserve officer for the Costa Mesa Police.

“Being an attorney was great,” said Tobin’s friend, Sgt. Jon Radus of the Fullerton Police Department. “But being a cop was better.”

At age 50, Tobin left the City Attorney’s Office and became an Anaheim Police officer.

“He was a giant in the field,” Radus said. “He was able to show you how intelligent he was in a humble manner.”

Radus explained Tobin’s legacy to the 51 police officers who took the DRE class.

“When you’re taking drunk drivers off the streets, you’re saving lives,” Radus said.

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Officer Haldor Larum (left) of the Irvine PD accepts his award from Sgt. Jon Radus of the Fullerton PD. Photo: Stacy Schwed