Salisbury Deputy Chief Steve Whitley named Officer of the Year
By Seth Leonard
For the Salisbury Post
Deputy Chief Steve Whitley of the Salisbury Police Department received this year’s Paul G. Wilson Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award at the Respect for Law Enforcement Breakfast and Awards Ceremony on Thursday.
The mood was breezy at the annual event hosted by the Salisbury Optimist club at the Holiday Inn.
Breakfast was served to approximately 50 officers in attendance. Area law enforcement officials presented several awards, with each department handing out one.
The biggest draw for the crowd, besides the eggs and home fries, was finding out which officer would take home the Paul G. Wilson award. Much to his surprise, Whitley was called to accept the honor, humbly saying, “Well, you got me.”
Whitley explained he wasn’t expecting anything besides breakfast that morning.
“It was probably one of the better kept secrets” in the department, Whitley said. “I did not have a clue, and I pride myself on being able to ferret out information.”
Fourteen awards were given out in total, and each officer’s direct superior was on hand to present and speak about the caliber of the recognized men.
Each officer’s contributions were noted. The award winners followed a pattern of selfless public service and dedication to duty. Some officers, like Gary Phillips of the Rockwell Police Department, served in the military and have more than a decade of service under their belts.
Others, such as N.C. State Trooper David Deal, have managed to distinguish themselves early in their careers. Deal joined the force in 2007 and has since cited nearly 900 charges and restarted a dying man’s heart with CPR.
The Kannapolis Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors. Hanna Roseman, a sophomore at the University of North Carolina at Asheville, sang the national anthem, and everyone joined in the Pledge of Allegiance.
Other notables at the breakfast included judges Charlie Brown and Kevin Eddinger and Spencer Town Manager Larry Smith.
The Paul Wilson Award is named for the late Officer Paul Wilson. Wison began the tradition of an honorary breakfast for local police through the Optimist Club several years ago. When he died four years ago, the club and police departments decided to name the award after him in light of his years of distinguished service.
Optimist Clubs around the country honor law enforcement in similar ways as part of National Police Week. The Salisbury branch of the club funds the event with dues and donations, as well as money it receives through fundraising.
Recognized officers were: Jeffrey K. Alley, China Grove Police Department; John Reep, East Spencer Police Department; Rodney Seamon, Granite Quarry Police Department; Brent Rowland, Kannapolis Police Department; Brandon Linn, Landis Police Department; Scott Minderlein, N.C. Alcohol Law Enforcement; B.J. Foster, State Bureau of Investigation; David Deal, N.C. Highway Patrol; Gary Phillips, Rockwell Police Department; Michael A. Brady, Rowan County Sheriff’s Office; Wiley Lamm, Salisbury Police Department; Martin Brigman, Spencer Police Department; Travis Nellis, Hefner V.A. Medical Center Police.