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Caroline County law enforcement officers receive awards for saving lives

Posted on Thursday, December 19, 2013 at 7:08 pm

MILFORD—Sgt. James McCarty of the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office (CCSO) received a lifesaving award on Wednesday for using first aid on a state trooper who was shot during a struggle on Interstate 95.

Deputy Brad Franklin also received a lifesaving award during the ceremony put on by the  CCSO, which honored dozens of officers. The honors covered a wide range, including rookie of year, excellent police conduct, four years of safe driving, physical fitness, firearms and instructors awards.

This was the ninth awards ceremony for the CCSO, and it included guests, such as County Supervisor Jeff Sili of the Bowling Green District, County Administrator Charles Culley and officers with the Hanover Sheriff’s Office and the Virginia State Police.

During the ceremony, Culley told the officers, “I appreciate all you do to protect the folks of Caroline County. I can’t imagine being out on a road in the dark and pulling over someone and not knowing what you might find.” Law enforcement officers—whether state police officers or deputies—aren’t paid enough, he added.

During last year’s awards ceremony, McCarty was overlooked. He was the first on the scene after Virginia State Trooper Michael Hamer was shot in the leg during a struggle on Interstate 95. It all started when a special agent with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles attempted to stop Herbert J. Wheeler, 32, of Chesterfield for reckless driving in December 2011. Wheeler left the vehicle and fled on foot.

The state trooper later spotted Wheeler walking along the highway in Caroline County and he put the suspect in his patrol car. Hamer and Wheeler struggled and Wheeler tried to take Hamer’s gun, which discharged and shot Hamer in the leg. Hamer shot Wheeler with another gun, and Wheeler died later in a hospital.

McCarty provided first aid to the badly bleeding trooper by applying pressure to the gun shot wound. This was McCarty’s second lifesaving award, said Patrol Lt. S. L. Cary, who served as master of ceremonies during the event.

Capt. Angel Lambert was named CCSO Deputy of the Year because she “is hard-working, leads by example and mentors” those under her command. She puts together work schedules for 40 employees.

Sheriff Tony Lippa announced that he had chosen Sgt. Keith Chapman for “the Sheriff’s Award.” In presenting the award to Chapman, Lippa noted “95 people” in his department deserve the award. However, Chapman was dispatched to the home of an elderly lady. Someone had left a dead dog on her property. Without a moment’s hesitation, Chapman drove home and got his shovel and returned and buried the dog.

On May 31, Franklin was dispatched to the scene of an overdose where the patient was unresponsive. As soon as the deputy arrived, he began to perform CPR on the patient. He was able to resuscitate the patient and a rescue team then transported the patient to a hospital.

Other officers who were honored for administering lifesaving measures were Sgt. Travis Nutter and Deputy Ben Doucet. They received the “excellent police conduct” award because “these two also conducted themselves in a manner of extreme professionalism when a terrible tragedy occurred at Caroline High School. A student, Thomas Wheeler, 15, had collapsed on the gym floor at the school, apparently from cardiac arrest. Nutter and Doucet were the first law enforcement officers on the scene and administered lifesaving measures.

In addition, Nutter, Doucet and Chris Wright are “some of the hardest working employees for this sheriff’s office,” Cary said during the ceremony in the auditorium of the Caroline Community Services Building. “Often, these individuals are called out in the early hours of the morning for search warrants or other special circumstances.”

In March, investigator Wright had received only “limited information” about an apparent “large-scale drug distribution ring.” Wright “explored and developed” the information and his dogmatic determination resulted in “numerous arrests, search warrants and seizures of drugs, weapons, vehicles, watercraft and bank accounts throughout Central Virginia.” Wright received the excellent police conduct award.

For removing the most drunk drivers from public roads in Caroline, Sgt. Craig Heywood received his fifth meritorious police conduct award. From Nov. 1, 2012 to Oct. 31, 2013, he made 20 arrests of those who were driving under the influence.

An officer who was recognized for helping out someone in a serious situation was Deputy Tony Greene. He was on his way home in Port Royal at the end of his shift when he came upon a slow-moving vehicle. The officer stopped the vehicle and found that the driver was an elderly man with dementia. Green got the man a room for the night at a motel and bought him a meal with his money. It turned out that the man with dementia had been reported as a missing person by officials in Prince George County, Md. Thanks to Green, the man was safely returned home. Green received the meritorious police conduct award.

Also receiving the meritorious police conduct award was Deputy Ellard Jones, who “went far out of his normal job duties as a court’s bailiff.” He consoled a traumatized 4-year-old boy who had just been involved in a tragic motor vehicle accident in which two others had lost their lives.

Deputy James MacFarland also received the “excellent police conduct award” for his “continuous diligence on a tedious job that is extremely time consuming to include logging in, labeling and transporting evidence to the state lab and doing what could be a fulltime job.

Deputy Ashley Ayers received the “meritorious police conduct award” due to her investigation into a significant counterfeit bill case. Her work led to the arrest of the perpetrator within Caroline and Hanover County.

Deputies Melissa Catterton and Fonds Brennan also received the meritorious police conduct award for their “heads up action and attention to detail.”  Catterton went on a routine larceny follow-up in Lake Caroline “where several suspicious individuals were encountered by the deputy,” Cary said. “One of the suspicious individuals ran from the deputy into a residence where the deputy detected a strong smell of marijuana.”

Catterton detained everyone at the residence and called for assistance from CCSO narcotics investigators, and this led to a large-scale drug distribution investigation.  Catterton, who started as a dispatcher with the CCSO, also won the “2013 Rookie of the Year” title.

Brennan got the award for her actions taken when she was dispatched for a residential alarm call. When she arrived, she detected a strong odor of marijuana. Her action led to a search warrant and arrest of a suspect.

The CCSO awards committee, chaired by Major Scott Moser, also gave a meritorious police conduct award to Lippa for his “unwavering and constant leadership and vigilance to the Caroline County Sheriff’s Office,” Cary said. “He has been instrumental in helping this county work toward a much-needed new radio system that’ll benefit all county departments that use the radio on a regular basis. He has also been unrelenting in the search for funds to keep this Sheriff’s Office mobile with vehicles.”

Deputy Chris Hall got the excellent police conduct award “for his continuous efforts of positive image he reflects” in representing the CCSO.

Two others who received the meritorious police conduct award were: Deputy Russ Hixson, for issuing 1,280 summonses, and Sgt. Keith Chatman for serving over 1,200 civil papers.

Lt. Stacy Cary received his second excellent police conduct award, and Sgt. Karl Eichenmiller received his third.

The CCSO recognized officers who “put in long days and at times odd hours to accomplish what they need to get done to manage their ever-growing case load,” Cary said. “They are often called out for their assistance and expertise on crime scenes and are always willing to offer advice when asked.” The three who received the excellent police conduct award were: Investigators Kristel DiGravio (second time), Scott Gershowitz (third time) and Dean Cable.

CCSO officers regularly travel to the shooting range, whether it’s “hot, cold, raining or snowing.” The awards committee recognized Deputy Brad Franklin for attaining the highest qualification level.

Those who received the third annual title as “expert marksman” were Richard Anderson, Brennan, Deputy Sean Buttner, Sgt. Mac Ellett, Capt. Angel Lambert and deputies William Green, David Lipscomb, Kevin Mundy, Charles Ryan and Mark O’Connor.

Physical fitness awards went to these officers: Sean Buttner, Catterton, Doucet, Bradford Franklin, Michael Lewis, McCarty, William Green and Ashley Ayers. Four-year safe driving awards went to Deputies Richie Anderson, Doucet and Warren Hite and Eichenmiller, Gershowitz, Sgt. Craig Heywood, MacFarland and Sgt. Julie Heffler.

Four-year good conduct awards went to Anderson, Deputy Joe Dedrick, Gershowitz, Hite, Deputy Mark O’Connor and Sgt. Chad Rozell.

Greene received a two-year specialty team award for serving on the SERT team (Special Emergency Response Team).

The four-year instructor’s award went to Ellett, Deputy Samuel Smith and Sgt. Chad Rozell. They have been certified as instructors by the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services.

This year’s CCSO Civilian Employee of the Year is Tanisha Wimmer.  Debbie Schools is dispatcher of the year and Irvin Earl Cooper is court services deputy of the year.