Town Council recognizes Police Dept. award winners

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Sgt. Michael Caldwell (center) was named Vinton Police Officer of the Year for 2016 and recognized by Town Council at the meeting on May 2. He is shown with (left to right) Lt. Glenn Austin, Mayor Brad Grose, his wife Christy and their children, and Deputy Chief Fabricio Drumond.
Sgt. Timothy Lawless (center) received the Vinton Police Department Leadership Award for 2016. He is pictured with (left to right) Lt. Glenn Austin, Mayor Brad Grose, his wife Megan and their daughter, and Chief Tom Foster.

Vinton Police Chief Tom Foster and Deputy Chief Fabricio Drumond, assisted by Lt. Glenn Austin, presented Police Department awards for 2016 at the Vinton Town Council meeting on May 2.

Deputy Chief Drumond presented Life Saving Awards to Sgt. Timothy Lawless, Sgt. Michael Caldwell, and Officer Silas Chapman for helping to save the life of a 4-year-old girl who had been abducted.

A second Life Saving Award was presented to Sgt. Scott Hurt and Officer Terry Pittman. A subject who was trespassing and then fled from officers threatened to jump from a third floor balcony. Officers distracted him while Officer Pittman approached and pulled him to safety from the balcony.

Deputy Chief Drumond, Cpl. Michael Giles, Sgt. Scott Hurt, and Officer Matthew Stafford received the Life Saving Award for rescuing a subject hanging from a steel cord attached to an exercise weight-lifting machine. The officers managed to lift the subject up from the machine and remove the cord. The man was not breathing so Cpl. Giles began CPR and was able to get the subject breathing on his own.

Officer Andrew DiCarlo also received the Life Saving Award for responding to a rescue call from an unresponsive male who was turning blue. Officer DiCarlo tilted the subject’s head back to open his airway, and did chest compressions until the subject resumed breathing and rescue arrived.

The coveted Leadership Award was presented to Sgt. Timothy Lawless, chosen by his peers.

“True leadership is the ability to inspire others to succeed,” said Drumond in presenting the award. “The paradox of a leader is that they become leaders because they make others better than themselves.”

Chief Foster presented the 2016 Officer of the Year Award to Sgt. Michael Caldwell. He prefaced his remarks by reading a talk from renowned radio personality Paul Harvey, broadcast  in 1970. Harvey’s father was a police officer shot and killed in 1921 when Harvey was only 3 years old.

“Less than one-half of 1 percent of policemen misfit the uniform,” said Harvey. “That’s a better average than you’d find among clergy. What is a policeman made of? He, of all men, is all at once the most needed and the most unwanted. He must be such a diplomat that he can settle differences between individuals so that each will think he won. He must make an instant decision which would require months for a lawyer to make.

“The police officer must know every gun, draw on the run. He must be able to whip two men twice his size and half his age, without damaging his uniform and without being brutal. If you hit him, he’s a coward. If he hits you, he’s a bully. The policeman must be a minister, a social worker, a diplomat, a tough guy, and a gentleman.”

In presenting the Officer of the Year Award to Sgt. Caldwell, Chief Foster said, “The Vinton Police Officer of the Year Award is significant in that it is an award given by peers, but it is earned by the entire family. The officer who earns this award was selected because he is seen as a leader, a mentor, a teacher— a person of unwavering ethics and integrity. The bottom line is that the Officer of the Year personifies the finest characteristics of the law enforcement profession.”

Foster went on to say, “An Officer of the Year has demonstrated professionalism under the most trying of circumstances, embodied patience when others long since would have walked away, demonstrated humanity toward people who some might say deserved none, and shown dedication to duty as the clock ticked long past the end of the scheduled workday while his family members waited patiently at home.”

Lt. Austin presented the Traffic Safety Award to Sgt. Tim Lawless. This award goes to the officer who “shows the most activity when it comes to traffic safety-related enforcement and education.” In addition to his other duties, Sgt. Lawless issued 229 traffic-related citations between January 1 and December 31, 2016 with 132 of those for excessive speed and reckless driving.

For his work in keeping the streets of Vinton safe and impaired drivers off of the streets, the 2016 DUI Award was presented to Officer Matthew Stafford, who “removed 10 impaired drivers from the roadways and neighborhoods of Vinton.”

Vinton Town Council issued a proclamation declaring May 14-20 as National Police Week. Chief Foster recognized not just officers who died in the line of duty, but their families, and current officers.

In other business, council recognized Treasurer Anne Cantrell and the Finance Department for earning the 22nd Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Reporting for the fiscal year ending on June 30, 2016.

Council held a public hearing on the proposed budget for FY 2017-2018. It will finalize  the $12.9 million budget, which includes at 1.5 percent cost of living pay raise for employees, at the next council meeting on May 16.