An evening of honor
LAKE LURE — Officers of the Lake Lure Police Department were joined by family, friends and members of the community for a night of celebration and recognition at the 8th Annual Lake Lure Police Department Evening of Honor, hosted by Larkin's On The Lake on Friday.
Following an evening of hors d'oeuvres, dinner and social time, the awards ceremony kicked off with the presentation of the Rookie/Reserve Officer of the Year.
Sponsored by Todd and Melinda Morse, the award is a recognition by peers within the department for an officer's dedication to the department and community.
The recipient was Patrolman Ryan Bailey, who began working with the Lake Lure Police Department on April 16.
"In the past this award has been broken into two separate awards," Lake Lure Police Chief Sean Humphries said. "But this year the officer being presented this award stood out in both categories."
Humphries said during Bailey's service with the department, he has shown true compassion for law enforcement and a maturity that new officers do not often demonstrate.
"When I have given tasks that most new officers would frown upon, he has always accepted with a smile," Humphries said. "He has gained the admiration of his fellow officers, of which many have commented on to the point of saying they would like to see this officer one day in full-time status."
"I would like to thank everybody — they've been very accepting of me coming to this department and I thank you for all the support," Bailey said.
Since beginning with the department seven months ago, Bailey has made seven arrests, logged 393 hours of patrol time and put in 240 hours of training.
"It is not always easy to find a reserve officer who is willing to put in a good amount of time like this officer does on a weekly or even a monthly basis," Humphries said. "Every time we have needed him, whether it's due to an officer being out or due to a large event in which we needed more officers than we had, he has yet to turn us down."
The next recognition was for the Distinguished Service Award for answering the call to service in times of need in the community.
Sponsored by Russell and Lynn Carnes Pitts, the award was presented to Sergeant Glen Gittens, who joined the department on Feb. 2, 2007.
"I have worked alongside this officer for the six years he has been with our agency," Humphries said. "During this time we have witnessed a high turnover rate for one reason or another. But this officer stayed local to this department through good times and bad."
Gittens served in the Army National Guard of the Virgin Islands from March 1982 until March 1992 and served with the Virgin Islands Police Department 1986-2006.
"This officer has had a lifetime of service — this dedication is something we can all admire," Humphries said.
During the acceptance of his award, Gittens took time to thank his wife, department colleagues, Humphries, Lake Lure council members and Lake Lure Mayor Bob Keith.
The third honor presented was the Community Service Recognition Award for contribution to the community above and beyond the call of duty.
Sponsored by Bob and Pam Keith, the award was given to Corporal Cory Hill, who was honored for his diligent effort of enforcement of the state laws to not only include traffic offenses, but also criminal activity on all levels in the community.
"I would like to thank everyone for this award and I hope to see you all back here next year," Hill said. "I also want to thank Chief [Humphries], he's been one of the best things to happen to Lake Lure."
Over the past year, Hill has issued 68 traffic citations and made 15 arrests, including seven DWIs and five drug violations. Hill has also played an important role in drug enforcement in Lake Lure and was nominated along with his fellow crew members for the Region C Award, a prestigious award throughout the law enforcement community.
"I am sure the enforcement done by this officer over the past year has allowed many individuals in this room get home safely," Humphries said. "And his diligent investigative manner of tracking down drug violators in our community is highly appreciated."
The fourth recognition of the evening was for the Outstanding Performance Award for exemplifying the highest standards of service to the community and department.
Sponsored by the Hickory Nut Gorge Olympiad, Sergeant Chris Shuford received the award.
"It seems to be human nature to just do what is required of us in our various tasks, but occasionally you find an individual who is not satisfied with doing just enough," Humphries said. "In the past year this recipient has worn many hats without any extra pay or incentive, just on the basis of self-improvement and willingness to better the entire department."
Humphries shared how Shuford volunteered to become the lead investigator on several felony cases which resulted in numerous convictions, and how he single-handedly brought the police department into the new age of forensic investigation by becoming a reserve officer with the Rutherford County Forensics Division.
"He in turn brings this knowledge back to our town for the benefit of our citizens," Humphries said.
Shuford also serves as the department's training coordinator and recently helped shut down a local narcotics operation, which led to a Region C Award nomination with his assisting officers.
"It is always my pleasure to try and grow for our community," Shuford said. "It's nice to be able to tell victims that the suspects are in jail — it's why we do what we do."
The final award presented by Humphries was the Team Spirit Award, recognizing the dedication to peers, the department and the community to enhance the quality of life for the citizens of the Hickory Nut Gorge area.
The award was sponsored by John, Paula and Kiefer Moore and was presented to the entire Lake Lure Police Department.
"Many of you might notice that in the past we have had an officer of the year award. I left that category out on purpose this year due to the fact I believe each officer working with me today is the officer of the year," Humphries said. "We have experienced many changes over the past several months as a department. I don't know how I would have been able to accomplish the tasks I set forth for myself over the past few months without the support and encouragement from my current staff."
Following the presentation of awards by Humphries, Lewis Bentley, Managing Partner with Larkin's On The Lake, made a special award presentation to the police chief.
"We are very appreciative of what you and your officers do to make us feel safe. I have worked here for 10 years and have never had any problems," Bentley said. "I don't know what you're doing, but keep on doing it and keeping this a great place to live."
In addition to the award, Bentley presented the police department with a check for $2,500.
"I don't know what to say. I thank my department for their hard work and support — when they shine, we all shine," Humphries said. "I speak for all of the officers when I say it's an honor that Larkin's continues to put an event like this on for us. We are very appreciative."