Seaford law enforcement officers honored at annual city ceremony
By Tony E. Windsor
While pride and appreciation were the overwhelming themes of this year's Seaford Police Department awards ceremony, the event also served as a reminder of the fight against a very real and threatening health issue facing the entire region.
On Thursday, Jan. 20, as Seaford's police officers were escorted into the Seaford Fire Department banquet hall by the Delaware State Police Pipes and Drums Unit, Acting Police Chief, Capt. Gary Flood, reminded the officers about the serious impact of heroin. 'Last year I spoke of the war that we are in with heroin,' he said. 'We are continuing to battle this enemy on a daily basis. The awards that will be given out here tonight are directly related to this war and the officers' efforts in battling this enemy. I asked you last year to do your best to combat this enemy and you have done another outstanding job.' Flood said Seaford Police officers confiscated over $31,000 in drug proceeds and in excess of 1,058 containers of heroin. 'I must ask you again to continue this battle,' Flood said. 'We all must work together and do our part no matter how small, this our little piece of the world and it is our responsibility for the preservation of Seaford.'
He said that a significant part of what the police officers do in their daily duties is related to fighting drugs. 'We know that 85 percent of the crime we investigate is directly related to heroin use, so we must use every tool available to us to combat this problem,' Flood said. 'We certainly live in an ever changing world. The world is not getting better. The things that we see are things we probably never thought we would see. It is now time for us to use all of our tools and senses to remain alert and vigilant to keep us safe.'
Flood also reminded officers of the role local law enforcement must play in the international fight against terrorist groups likes ISIL. 'Four people have been arrested recently by the FBI, identified as ISIL supporters,' he said. 'Two of these are from Delaware and two are from Maryland; that's getting close to home. Stay alert and stay vigilant regarding your surroundings and in carrying out your duties.'
Flood pointed out that in early 2015, ISIL published a 'hit list' of military and law enforcement members as targets. He urged everyone to be careful of information they may post on social media outlets such as Facebook. 'Social media is where 80 percent of information obtained by ISIL came from,' he said. Seaford Mayor David Genshaw praised the police officers and said the entire community is excited to 'celebrate your successes.' He said the work being done by the police department is a critical element of Seaford's overall success. 'We appreciate the job you do, and we support you,' he said. 'Your efforts to combat the heroin epidemic are crucial. As much as I want to see business grow in Seaford, the heroin trade is one business I would like to see fail.' Adding to Genshaw's remarks was City Manager Dolores Slatcher, who said it is important that while the police officers carry out their duties, the city as a whole should stand behind them. 'Our commitment should be that if you perform your job using the highest standards and you have morally and ethically applied these principles in dealing with the public, then we should have your back and stand with you,' she said. 'Mistakes will be made, it is inevitable, but be honest and together solutions can be found. Policing is crucial to our success in growing this city. Public safety is one of the concerns of all who live and work in your jurisdiction.'
Slatcher also took time to recognize the communications leg of the police department, the dispatchers, who she credits as 'an integral part of the entire policing service.' Slatcher said, 'Your voice becomes the face of the service. And your commitment to officers, firefighter, EMS, and ambulance personnel, utility personnel, and community safety is essential. Your access and deployment of information is what keeps the police, fire, emergency medical and utility engines running.'
Also addressing the police officers at the awards ceremony was Councilwoman Leanne Phillips- Lowe, who serves as city police commissioner. Phillips-Lowe said she is grateful to have the opportunity to attend the annual Seaford Police Department ceremony. 'This is our opportunity to recognize and pay tribute to each one of you, not only for the incidents which garner certificates but for every action, every day, from the mundane to the ones which place you in peril,' she said.
She quoted Elon University professor, Anthony Hatcher, who said, 'There is nobody better than a good cop. Cops can represent the best of us when dealing with the worst of us.'
Phillips-Lowe went on to add that while recent national headlines have created a trend of condemnation among the ranks of law enforcement, there are other headlines that demonstrated many acts of good will carried out by officers throughout the country. 'Sadly, your profession has been tarnished, demeaned and disrespected even more this past year,' she said. 'However, for each officer who harms someone or abuses the public's trust, countless others follow the rules and procedures, wanting only to serve, protect, and return home safely at the end of their work day. The stories we will hear about tonight at this ceremony also reaffirm the tremendous role you have in society. With an abiding respect and deep appreciation, it's my honor to thank you for your service and sacrifice.'
Among the honors recognized during the Seaford Police Department Awards Ceremony were 'Employee of the Year' and the recipient of the annual 'Chief's Award'. This year's Employee of the Year is Cpl. Chris Miller. In presenting the awards, Capt. Flood lauded Miller as distinguishing himself in the areas of supervision and patrol. 'This officer serves the squad as assistant sector supervisor and communicates effectively with administration. In the patrol area Cpl. Miller has set a high standard for himself and other officers to include DUI arrests, and continues to serve on the STAR (Strategic Tactical and Response) team.'
Miller also serves as a liaison for the police department to the Delaware Special Olympics and oversees and coordinates the Seaford portion of the Olympic Torch Run which runs from south of Blades to north of Bridgeville. He is a 12-year veteran of the Seaford Police Department.
Flood presented the coveted 'Chief's Award' to Sgt. Joe Bowen, who serves as the officer in charge of the STAR team and conducts monthly trainings to ensure team members remain up to date with all weapon's certifications. 'Sgt. Bowen was instrumental in the overall operation and resolution of a barricade incident that lasted five hours in 90-degree temperatures,' Flood said.
Flood said Bowen was responsible for acquiring grant funding to purchase new radio headsets and the procurement of a new tactical vehicle at no cost to the city. 'He did all this while still performing his duties as a squad supervisor. He is definitely an asset to the department,' Flood said.
See more from the Seaford Police Department Awards Ceremony in next week's Star.
News tips wanted
Call us with ideas for news and features. We're always looking for good stories to share with readers.
Call Bryant Richardson at 629-9788.