NEWFANE >> On Jan. 16, Windham County Sheriff Keith Clark presented numerous awards to recognize the actions of deputies and staff at the office's third Annual Awards Ceremony.
"We recognize the deputies for what they do throughout the year and it is good for morale because it shows we are paying attention to what they do," said Clark.
Clark presented two life-saving awards to two staff members, Deputy First Class Michael Roj and Deputy Tyler Clark. These awards demonstrate success from those who have either educated individuals about or prevented death among community members.
"Deputy First Class Michael Roj was directly responsible for life saving actions of a resident in 2014 after educating her on the important use of her seat belt. The resident was later in an a motor vehicle crash and was wearing her seatbelt, allowing her to walk away without injury," as stated in a press release from the Windham County Sheriff's office.
As for the other life saving award, Deputy Clark was presented with this honor after he had "selflessly" entered the river after a suicidal person in Westminister who jumped off a bridge. Clark rendered immediate life-saving actions to the person who attempted suicide and they survived.
Deputy Joshua Parro was recognized as the Deputy of the Year and Ian Gallup was acknowledged as the Dispatcher of the year for demonstrated excellence, unusual and continued dedication to the Windham County Sheriff's Office as recognized by superiors, peers and the public."
The Sheriff's Merit Award was presented to Sergeant Jessica Fellows who has demonstrated unusual devotion to duty in her assignment to the Southeastern Unit for Special Investigations as an investigator of sexual assaults and severe child abuse between 2012 and 2015.
Corporal Dana Shepard and Deputy Timothy Worth received the Volunteer Service Award. The Volunteer Service Award is given to the top ten percent of employees who donate their time to support the people of Windham County in agency coordinated events.
Deputy First Class Brett Gaylord was awarded the Distinguished Accomplishment award for his hard work and dedication in organizing the Toys for Kids toy drive along with the Marine Corps League.
The Exemplary Service Award was presented to Lieutenant Mark Anderson who demonstrates exemplary service in job performance, citizen contacts, and overall attitude.
In addition to the life saving award, Roj received the Distinguished Accomplishment Award for his hard work and dedication to the Enhanced Teen Driver Safety Program. The program is sponsored by State Farm Insurance and provided Roj with the opportunity to share with students about law enforcement tested and approved strategies, techniques and insight designed to increase the teens knowledge of highway safety and proactive ways to reduce the risks teens face while driving.
Aside from the award ceremony, five of the deputies were congratulated in another tangible way- Sheriff Clark announced on Jan. 9 that the five individuals had successfully completed their training and would be promoted to the title of sergeant within the coming months.
In the early summer of 2015, the five deputies were notified by Clark that he would like to promote them after they completed several months of training. Clark notes that this often done in the military where individuals will be told that their completed training will result in some type of promotion of rank.
Clark said the five deputies will be promoted over the next six or seven months at different times to allow them to be individually mentored.
"This is the first time we've done something like this," said Clark. "Since my time there, we've either never had people ready or seen a need to promote people," said Clark.
According to Clark, the office deemed the five deputies ready for promotion based on their time spent at the office, the dedication they have demonstrated while there and their success in completing the appropriate training.
"I think we're as ready can be and the training we've gone through has definitely helped us with our future endeavours as far as supervisory roles" said Brett Gaylord who has been with the Windham County Sheriff's office since 2010. He added that the most helpful part of the training was "not just getting dropped into it" and looking at understanding what challenges may come their way.
Some of these promotional positions will include supervisory; overseeing town of Vernon; courts; law enforcement of the Windham County Sheriff's office vehicles and equipment and transportation and details. Clark noted there will be a slight pay raise but that he did not have the numbers in front of him.
"This is the first time I've actually had training before going into the position, usually the department will just kind of throw you into the position and wish you luck and then sometime down the road you might get some training if ever," said Christopher Norton who has been with the Windham County Sheriff's office for about 18 months and have been a police officer for 18 years in Springfield and Kansas. "To me the best has been going over the internal working of the department and see how things work and know how to make things happen when you need to."
The five deputies that were promoted were Melissa Evans, Brett Gaylord, Christopher Norton, Dana Shepard and Tyler Cooke.
"The Windham County Sheriff's office is definitely an evolving agency, we're doing a lot of different things that a lot of other places aren't doing such as our electronic monitoring program and some other things that are in the works with the sheriff's justice center ," said Gaylord. "We're always looking ahead and looking to new technologies to keep us safe and the public safe."
Norton added that he believes that the Windham County Sheriff's office in community minded and hopes that others will reach out to them so they can serve the citizens.