|2014 Law Appreciation Day honors WCSO staff members|
Wakulla County Sheriff Charlie Creel recognized the efforts of several staff members during the annual Law Appreciation Day luncheon Friday, May 9 at the Wakulla Community Center.
The Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award was given to Detective Derek Lawhon and Sgt. Jeremy Johnston. Detective Lawhon joined the WCSO in 2009 as a Detention Deputy. He transferred to the Road Patrol Division and was later assigned to the Criminal Investigations Division where he handles property crimes. He has done an outstanding job recovering stolen property so that the goods can be returned to their rightful owner.
Detective Lawhon recently assisted Road Patrol Sgt. Jeremy Johnston in conducting a traffic stop that led to the arrest of a suspect who was in possession of more than two kilograms of cocaine and $125,000 in cash on the Woodville Highway.
Sgt. Johnston joined the WCSO in 2007 as a Detention Deputy. He has also served the agency in the Road Patrol Division, Criminal Investigations and Narcotics. Sgt. Johnston has been an integral part of training new deputies to safely serve Wakulla County. He is a former Staff Sergeant in the U.S. Army.
The Detention Deputy of the Year was Detention Deputy Robert Stanley. Deputy Stanley graduated from the Pat Thomas Corrections Academy in 2012 and joined the WCSO the same year. He was awarded Detention Deputy of the Quarter recognition in the third quarter of 2013. He expresses compassion toward the inmates and detainees while remaining professional and fair.
The Communications Officer of the Year was Dispatcher Shannon Day. Officer Day joined the WCSO in May 2012 and has since earned her Certification as a Public Safety Telecommunicator. She has the respect of her peers and is always willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that the citizens receive the required level of support.
HR Director Day joined the WCSO in April 1993 as the E-911 Coordinator. She has also served as the Finance Director as well as in Information Technology, Maintenance Division, Fleet Management and Purchasing. She helped address county growth with the creation of the Human Resources Division. She has seen the WCSO grow from 80 employees to a peak of 170 and is responsible for insurance issues, health benefits, hiring, discipline, court cases, training paperwork, accreditation standards, performance evaluations, open enrollment and annual health shots for the staff.
Finance Director Mary Dean Barwick joined the WCSO in June 2000 and is responsible for preparing and submitting the annual operating budget. She is also responsible for administering purchasing policies, submitting monthly orders for inmates, cleaning and office supply orders and the processing of all invoices and checks for services and purchases.
The Volunteer of the Year award was given to Reserve Sgt. Roy Gunnarsson and Reserve Sgt. Tom Kilbourn.
Sgt. Gunnarsson is employed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement and has been a Reserve Deputy since 2012. He has successfully completed training to become a Class I Reserve Deputy in the Road Patrol Division operating on his own responding to calls for service.
Sgt. Kilbourn is retired from the Florida Capitol Police where he served in communications, security training and patrol. He joined the WCSO Reserves in 2008 and coordinates the reserve program in support of the many community events in Wakulla County. The WCSO Reserve Unit worked 4,800 hours over the past year creating an enormous saving to taxpayers over paid personnel.
During the event, the gathering was asked to remember the two law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2014 and four more law enforcement officers who lost their lives in the line of duty in 2013. The group also honored the efforts of Taylor County Deputy Robert Lundy for his Feb. 5, 2014 heroics of saving many lives at a Perry Ford dealership. Deputy Lundy shot and killed a gunman who began a rampage inside the dealership. Deputy Lundy was nearly killed in the confrontation, but has since recovered.
The event was catered by Coastal Restaurant of Panacea and included catfish, shrimp and chicken. The event is sponsored by the Coastal Optimist Club each year which presented plaques to the WCSO staff.