The Suburbanite
  • Crime Prevention awards salute police, deputies, citizens

  • Police, deputies and a bank manager were honored Tuesday morning at the annual Crime Prevention Week Award Breakfast.

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  • More than 200 law enforcement officers, their families and friends gathered Tuesday to share breakfast and celebrate the year’s top law enforcement awards.
    The annual Crime Prevention Week Award Breakfast celebrates the Canton Police Officer of the Year, the Stark County Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year, the Community Police Officer of the Year and the Stark County Crime Prevention Citizen of the Year.
    Held this year at Tozzi’s on 12th, 4210 12th St. NW, the breakfast is sponsored by the Canton Exchange Club, the city police department, the sheriff’s department, the Stark County Prosecutor’s Office, the Canton Rotary Club and the Stark County Police Chief’s Association, which is headed this year by Perry Township Police Chief Michael Pomesky.
    The Robert D. Horowitz Crime Prevention Citizen of the Year award this year went to Travis Boyd.
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    The Bank of Magnolia’s branch manager, Boyd chased after the man who robbed his bank at 3221 Cleveland Ave. SE on Oct. 22. During the chase, Boyd was able to provide descriptions of two suspects, the vehicle, its license plate and their location. He also located evidence that directly linked one of the suspects to the robbery.
    “I really feel out of place up here with law enforcement officers who are dodging bullets every day,” he said while receiving the award. “I humbly accept this as a great honor, but you guys are the heroes. And, no offense, but I hope I never have to meet any of you on your job at (my) work again.”
    His remarks were met by laughter and applause.
    The Stark County Deputy of the Year award is shared by Deputy Tony C. Gayles and Chief Deputy Michael A. McDonald.
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    Page 2 of 3 - McDonald was not present due to illness, but Maj. Brian Arnold accepted it for him.
    McDonald devoted more than 30 years of service to Stark County residents. Having begun his career as a Explorer on the reserve unit, McDonald rose through the ranks, from the patrol division to jail administrator. He was elected sheriff in November but could not serve due to undisclosed medical reasons.
    He was instrumental in the hiring of 33 new employees last year and he was credited with helping get the sales tax issue approved by voters through his “selfless sacrifice and leadership,” according to the letter recommending him for the award.
    Gayles was hired in 2004. Two months later, he witnessed a roadside fight between two men and wound up chasing and holding one of the men for police.
    He was described as a “highly energized, very motivated” deputy who “takes a proactive approach” to his work. Last year, he responded to 2,170 calls for service, conducted 205 traffic stops and made 86 arrests.
    “Thank you all for allowing me the honor and privilege of serving you,” Gayles said.
    The Community Police Officer of the Year is North Canton Patrolman John R. Hemric.
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    A 12-year-old veteran of the force, Hemric “has combined his training, knowledge of the law, and patrol tactics into a unique style, which helps him to exemplify the law enforcement expression of ‘looking beyond the stop,’ ” Chief Stephan B. Wilder said in his recommendation for the award.
    He also leads the department in criminal and juvenile arrests.
    “I love doing this job,” Hemric told the crowd. “I do it with the goal to help make North Canton a safer community, and I hope I’ve done that.”
    The Canton Police Officer of the Year is Detective Sgt. Scott Prince.
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    Page 3 of 3 - Chief Bruce Lawver recommended him for the award, noting that Prince has “distinguished himself as an excellent supervisor of the detective bureau, and an integral and valuable member of the Canton Police Department.”
    He cited Prince’s work investigating homicides, criminal investigation that “by nature require additional and advanced knowledge and experience,” and Prince’s  knowledge and experience investigating local criminal street gangs.
    “I am both honored and humbled to receive this award,” Prince said.
    “I wondered why me? I can think of so many other officers who deserve this so much more than I do.” He named several and what each does for the police department.
    Prince spoke about his assignment to the task force created to address a rash of shootings. The data he and his fellow officers collected and analyzed led to the arrests of more than 40 people and “15 guns taken off the street,” he said. Moreover, their work is now used as a model for new police-led directives against crime.
    In addition to the awards, Becky Waltz and Denise Branson were the event’s guest speakers.
    The women are survivors of violence. Branson’s mother died at the hands of her father when Branson was just 6 years old. Waltz survived an acid attack by her estranged husband several years ago.

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