Area law enforcement receives Officer of the Year awards
Law enforcement officers from across the county gathered Tuesday morning to celebrate the 2013 Officer of the Year recipients at the annual Respect for Law breakfast. The event recognizes officers within their respective departments who have been chosen because of their service to the community.
The event is sponsored by the Salisbury Optimist Club and was held at Holiday Inn. The program was presided by Dr. Karl Hales with the Optimist Club. The speaker for the event was Ret. U.S. Navy Rear Admiral Edward “Sonny” Masso. Masso is the the chief operating officer for the North Carolina Department of Public Safety. He spoke about traveling the state and speaking to law enforcement and others about school safety.
“It means a lot to students to know someone is protecting them,” he said.
Masso asked if there were any in the room who were school resources officers. A few officers in the room were school resource officers.
“Those of you who work in the field know nothing is routine anymore,” Masso said.
He thanked the officers for their hard work and dedication.
Salisbury Police Chief Rory Collins received the Paul G. Wilson Award, an honor given to an officer who embodies the spirit of the late Paul Wilson, who began the breakfast through the Optimist Club.
Rory Collins began his law enforcement career in 1990 as a deputy with the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office. Collins began with the Salisbury Police in 1995, taking on different responsibilities along the way. He received his criminal justice degree from Livingstone College. Collins resides in western Rowan County with his wife, Traci, and son, Chandler, who is student at Clemson University.
Collins spoke of losing two officers — Wiley Lamm, who lost his battle with cancer and Mark Hunter, who died of a heart attack. He noted how area agencies stepped in to help while his officers mourned the loss of their fellow officers. Collins said he wouldn’t be where he is without his staff and officers.
“Whenever they succeed, I succeed,” he said.
This year’s Officer of the Year for each agency are:
China Grove Police — Officer Nena Stillwell. Stillwell has been in law enforcement for more than 17 years. She joined the China Grove Police Department in 2005 and is currently a patrol officer. She was nominated by her peers and described by supervisors as someone who has been a mentor to others.
East Spencer Police — Officer Eric Waters. Waters is a patrol officer with the department and was responsible with the redesign of the East Spencer patrol cars and department patches.
Granite Quarry-Faith Police — Officer Matthew Milette. Milette began with the department in 2007 and helps facilitate the department’s adoption of a family at Christmas.
Kannapolis Police — Patrol Officer II Christopher Fisher. Fisher has been with the department since 2006 and during his time with the department has been a part of the special response team and a field training officer.
Landis Police — Officer Josh Barlow. Barlow has been with the department for four years. Chief Bob Wood joked that the only bad thing he had to say about Barlow is that he was from New York. Wood said he appreciated the officer.
N.C. Highway Patrol — Trooper C.J. Doty. First Sgt. F.C. Ferguson called Doty dedicated and a faithful member of the department. “His family gets all the attention he doesn’t give to the Highway Patrol,” Ferguson said.
Rockwell Police — Officer Jimmy G. Richardson. Richardson began as a reserve officer. He is a former military serviceman with the Army Special Forces. He was originally hired by Rockwell Police in 1987, left to pursue other endeavors and returned in 2010.
Rowan County Sheriff’s — Master Deputy Kevin Myers. Rowan Sheriff Kevin Auten said there are times when he’s had to send Myers home after working hours.
Salisbury Police — Sgt. Bryant Willis. Willis served in the patrol division alongside current Police Chief Rory Collins. Collins said Willis is a man of integrity.
Spencer Police — Officer Hunter M. Shue. Shue is also a member of the Army National Guard where he serves as a helicopter crew chief.
VA Medical Center Police — Cpl. Travis Mellis. Mellis, who is also a veteran, has been with the Hefner VA Medical Center since 2007. He is also the defensive tactics instructor.
Rowan County Sheriff’s Chaplain Michael Taylor received the state’s highest civilian honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. Taylor has been the chaplain with the sheriff’s office for more than 20 years. He’s been heading the Shield A Badge with Prayer program for the last 18 years. This week is National Police Week.
Contact reporter Shavonne Potts at 704-797-4253. Twitter: www.twitter.com/salpostpotts Facebook: www.facebook.com/Shavonne.SalisburyPost.