Rows of uniforms assembled on Thursday for the Sandhills Law Enforcement Awards ceremony, held at Mount Olive Baptist Church. The ceremony was sponsored by Alcohol and Drug Services of Richmond County and the Youth Empowered to Succeed (YES) program, in order to acknowledge the service and dedication of law enforcement officers and public figures around the area.
The awards were presented in honor of October’s Red Ribbon month, a time when people wear red ribbons to honor Agent Enrique S. “Kiki” Camarena, an 11-year veteran agent of the Drug Enforcement Administration who was kidnapped, brutally tortured and murdered in Mexico in 1985 while working undercover gathering information and evidence about drug lords. Agent Camarena paid the ultimate sacrifice, and millions of Americans who wear these ribbons visibly take a stand that they are opposed to illicit drug use and commemorate all of those who have been tragically affected by the results of use and abuse.
Earlier this month, community members were encouraged to nominate a law enforcement officer who they felt had gone above and beyond to protect the community, and officers who received three or more nominations received awards during Thursday’s ceremony.
Rockingham Mayor Gene McLaurin began the ceremony by addressing the officers and public officials.
“We understand the sacrifice you make to protect and serve, and it does not go unnoticed,” he said. “Sheriff Clemmons has done an outstanding job stressing teamwork and cooperation with all of the surrounding agencies, and now, to branch that out into the community — it makes us all proud.”
Nominees of the 2012 awards for the Rockingham Police Department were Lee Bailey and Brandon Lugabihl, while Josh Glen and Captain Scott Waters received awards from the Hamlet Police Department.
Sheriff James Clemmons Jr., N.L. Forester, Mike Patrick, Terri Childers and Jay Childers took away awards from the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office.
Hoke County Sheriff’s Office received nominations for Sheriff Hebert Peterkin, Captain N. Revels and Sergeant Murphy, while Moore County Sheriff/Police Department received honors for Johnnie Burton, John Gibbons, Sammy McNeil, Jerrell Seawell and Jerry Aponte.
Receiving awards within the Richmond County Investigators/Vice category were Robert Smith, Ty Rucker, Dennis Smith Jr., P.T. Dawkins and Daniel McInnis. State Trooper Michael Lindsey also received an award.
Danita McNeill was awarded for her commitment to Richmond County Probation/Parole, and Curtis Ingram, Dobbins Heights Mayor Antonio Blue and Shirley Hart of Hoke County received awards in the Community Services category.
Richmond County Commissioner John Garner said that he felt that law enforcement officers played many different roles, including enforcers, counselors, and sometimes just a hand to hold.
“I don’t think the general public always realizes that you are the first responders to an emergency situation,” he said. “You have to have a lot of physical strength and moral fortitude to carry out your job … These are characteristic and quality traits that law enforcement officers have. We’re here to uphold you, support you and be the best we can be for you,” Garner said.
— Staff Writer Mallory Brown can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 18, or by email at email@example.com.