Seaford honors officers for sacrifices and service

By Tony E. Windsor

Law enforcement officers in Seaford were recently honored during an annual awards ceremony at the Seaford Volunteer Fire Department banquet hall. Now in its 16th year, the awards ceremony is made up of special commendations for individual and team actions by police officers during 2010.

Seaford Police Chief Gary Morris opened the Jan. 20, ceremonies by asking for a moment of silence for two police-related events that had occurred earlier in the day. He then went on to express concern for the family of slain Georgetown Police Officer Chad Spicer. "The trial of Chad Spicer started today and now the family will have to re-live this tragedy," he said. He also expressed sadness at the murder of two Miami police officers who had been killed in a shootout earlier in the day while serving murder warrants. "Unfortunately, there are things we do as police officers that do not leave us reason to celebrate," he told the audience.

Seaford City Manager Dolores Slatcher addressed the police officers who were seated in the first three rows on both sides of the fire hall. She expressed appreciation for the work that the officers do for the city and joked that the new police officers seemed to be getting "younger and younger" the older she gets. She went on to say that the appreciation the city has for the police officers and their dedication is equally shared with the families of the officers and dispatchers. "We appreciate what you (police) do for the city and we equally appreciate the sacrifice that your families make which allows you to serve the city," she said. "These are the people that support what you do and take care of you at home so you can do it."

Seaford Police Commissioner Rhea Shannon commented on the "excellent job" the Seaford Police do in taking care of problems in the city. "This has been one good year for the police department," he said. "I do not believe there are many unsolved cases out there. Everybody works together and is committed to this job."

Seaford Mayor Ed Butler said when visiting our community, or in other areas, he is always hearing about how good the Seaford Police Department is at its job. "If any of you feel you do not hear how proud we are of you, I am here to tell you now. I am proud of you." Butler said he prays daily for the police department. "I do pray for each and every one of you every day," he said. I pray that God will protect you in whatever you may face. I feel this is important. It takes all of you doing a good job and there is no doubt that the police department has provided the city and its people a job well done."

During the ceremonies Chief Morris said that 2010 was a "banner year." He said for the third year in a row there were no vehicular fatalities and, with the exception of a case of parental abuse which resulted in the death of a Seaford infant, no homicides. Although the city faced a challenging budget year, Morris said the police department was able to operate with no employee layoffs and no furloughs. "We have the employees and the city to thank for these budgetary accomplishments," he said. The awards ceremony started with Chief Morris recognizing officers who were promoted in rank during 2010. These included Det. Cpl. Valerie Horne, and two officers, James Bachman and Toby Laurion, who were promoted to Patrolman First Class. Also being recognized for 20 years of service to the police department was Det. Sgt. Tommy Lee who came to the department in 1990.

A special commendation was awarded to police dispatcher Anita Bell who for four years running has been recognized for maintaining the highest overall average for 155 emergency medical services calls.

Dispatchers are required to maintain standards set by the National Academy of Emergency Medical Dispatch in order to remain compliant for national accreditation. Bells' overall average is 99.58 percent.

Commendation Awards were awarded to the following officers: Pfc. Todd White, Cpl. Steve Flood, Det. Sgt. Tommy Lee, Det. Cpl. Eric Chambers, Sgt. Jason Sterner, Cpl. Aaron Mitchell, Pfc. Kyle Linville, Pfc. Marc Russell, Pfc. Toby Laurion, Cpl. Matt Mills, Cpl. John Wingate, Pfc. Brock Adkins, Det. Cpl. Valerie Horne, Sgt. Tommy LeCates, Sgt. Mike Rapa, Pfc. Cole Scott, Dispatchers, Angie Cowgill, Anita Bell and Mike Short, Sgt. Joe Bowen, Cpl. Chris Miller, and Pfc. Megan Tavares.

An "Exceptional Duty Award" was presented to three police officers and a Seaford Volunteer Fireman. According to Capt. Gary Flood who announced the award, on Dec. 2, officers including Sgt. Mike Rapa, Cpl. John Wingate and Pfc. Brock Adkins responded to a complaint of a child not breathing. They found a three-month-old child with no pulse. The officers began CPR with the aid of Seaford Fireman, Ryan Petrone who responded while off duty. The CPR was continued until paramedics and ambulance personnel arrived on the scene. Unfortunately, Flood said the child did not survive.

Chief Gary Morris announced the 2010 "Employee of the Year," which was awarded to Det. Cpl. Valerie Horne. According to Morris, along with earning three Commendation Awards, Horne received specialized training in 2010 for the interviewing of sexual assault victims and their preparation for court. She will also be handling all sex offender notifications for the city. Morris said Horne led the SPD Criminal Investigations Unit in arrests for 2010. "[Det. Cpl. Horne's] diligence to duty and positive attitude has earned the respect of her peers and supervisors alike," Morris said. The highlight of the awards ceremonies came at the end of the event when Chief Morris announced his choice for the annual "Chief's Award." The award for 2010 was presented to Det. Cpl. Eric Chambers. In making the presentation, Morris complimented Chambers on his "continued loyalty and dedication" to the Seaford Police Department as a detective. He credited Chambers for working to coordinate administrative tasks with members of the police department patrol units, Criminal Investigation Division and administration. He said these efforts have resulted in successful investigative and administrative actions and decisions.

Chambers has worked as a Computer Voice Stress Analyzer (CVSA) Operator during both the applicant employment process and during criminal investigations. He has also offered his CVSA services to give examinations to other police agencies. Morris lauded Chambers for his willingness to work with his colleagues on cases of his own and other's as well.

"You are directly responsible for drafting several search warrants throughout the year for your own cases and for cases of other officers," Morris said. "In addition, you unselfishly lend your computer expertise to many of your co-workers to help them through various job functions. Foremost, you are recognized as an individual who can be approached by any of your co-workers or supervisors to request your assistance, and you respond willingly and with a positive attitude. You continue to set an example for others to follow and are to be commended for your exemplary and professional service to the Seaford Police Department."

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