Tuesday, March 15, 2011

TOP STORY >> Jacksonville’s finest are honored

Leader staff writer

Jacksonville’s Police Department recognized officers, employees and volunteers for their work over the past year during the eighth annual awards banquet held Thursday night at McArthur Assembly of God Church.

“Everyone who received an award was deserving and those who didn’t receive an award were deserving of the recognition that was given by McArthur Church,” Police Chief Gary Sipes said.

The Citizen of the Year Award went to Donna Harts and Carol McMaster.

The two are Citizens Police Academy alumnae who volunteer at the front desk of the police department. They got together with other alumni to provide a Christmas dinner for officers on duty at the police department.

Officer Don Bredenberg was presented with the Special Recognition Award. Bredenberg, a school resource officer brought the “Every 15 Minutes” program to Jacksonville High School and North Pulaski High School. “Every 15 Minutes” is an alcohol awareness program presented before prom to make students aware of the dangers of drinking and driving.

Lt. Brett Hibbs also received the Special Recognition Award for his work as a liaison between the Special Response Team, Special Operations Unit and the K-9 units of the police department.

Rookie of the year honors went to Officer Cleyton McDonald.

“Cleyton is always professional and extremely passionate about the profession,” Sipes said.

Sgt. Robert Washington was presented with the Humanitarian of the Year Award. Washington brought the Our Kids Program, a mentoring program geared specifically toward young black males, to Jacksonville late last year. The program has 50 youngsters and Washington has recruited 34 mentors for the program.

“I think it is going to help Jacksonville in the future,” Sipes said.

The Life Saving Award went to Officer Jason Guillory and Officer Jennifer Thrasher. In June the officers helped rescue a truck driver whose rig overturned on the freeway.

Lt. Martin Cass was presented with the Command Staff of the Year Award. Cass has a 25-plus career. Chief Sipes said Cass is well respected by the officers. He is involved with Special Olympics and Pathfinder.

The supervisor of the year award went to Sgt. Jim Burnett. Sipes said Burnett is always there to give advice and to answer officers’ questions.

Detective Mark Humphries received the Detective of the Year Award. Humphries led detectives in the arrest of the city’s lone murder of last year.

Officer of the year went to Officer Grant Roberts. Roberts oversees the physical-fitness program of the Special Response Team and has helped other officers in the police department become more fit.

Jeff Elmore was presented with the Auxiliary Officer of the Year Award. He is a police department chaplain who went through training to become a certified auxiliary police officer.

The Civilian Employee of the Year award went to Gail Morris. She is a secretary at the police department. Morris helped Sgt. Robert Washington and the Our Kids Program by baking cakes and making dishes for the meetings.

The police department presented a plaque to the Citizens Police Academy alumni for their support of the police department. Accepting the plaque were alumni members Alderman Bill Howard, Dolores Johnson and president Jim Moore.

Jacksonville Mayor Gary Fletcher was presented with an appreciation award for his support of the police department prior to the banquet because he was in Washington. The police department also gave an appreciation award to City Administrator Jim Durham.