NORTH CANTON  North Canton Patrol Officer Patrick Lewis was one of two police officers in Stark County to be awarded the Stark County Safe Communities 2017 Traffic Officer of the Year. Patrolman Kyle Slone of Canton Police Department was the second officer to be awarded this year.

Lewis, who is the first in his family to work in law enforcement, received his award in Februry while at the Stark County Law Enforcement Retirement and Awards Banquet. Lewis started with the North Canton Police Department as a dispatcher in 2013. He became a patrol officer in 2015. This was his first award.

"I was in the Marine reserves for six years and I just really liked the lifestyle and decided to become a police officer because I thought it would mirror the work life of being in the Marines," Lewis said. "I have many people in my family who have served in the military but I’m the first to serve the community in law enforcement. My mother’s grandfather was a firefighter in (Pennsylvania) but no police officers."

Police Chief John R. Minock nominated Lewis for the award. This is the third officer in his department to have been awarded in the past six years.

"I nominated Patrol Officer Lewis because of his outstanding record for traffic stops and seat belt citations, he’s done a great job since day one of his service," Minock said.

Lewis had 620 traffic stops and 137 seat belt citations last year. Minock said the officers in the department do multiple tasks versus being dedicated to one are such as traffic stops. One of the reasons he nominated Lewis because of his exemplary manner in which Lewis balances his time between answering calls for service, traffic enforcement, patrolling the community and other job responsibilities. Lewis has also recently become an ADAP instructor and field training officer.

"Officer Lewis is the department’s representative on the Stark County OVI Task Force and participated in over 52 hours of OVI checkpoints and saturation patrol. Traffic violations are the biggest compliant we get and for an officer to be as dedicated and focused on traffic stops as Lewis is pretty phenomenal especially when he participates in so many other duties," Minock said.

Lewis has focused on safety belt enforcement and has issued more than half of the total department’s citations for not wearing a seat belt.

"Traffic citations can decrease the number of future violations. One example of that is when the word gets spread that North Canton Police will issue a citation for not wearing a seat belt when we pull drivers over for other violations, drivers will start wearing a seat belt when they drive through our city," Lewis said. "The traffic violation can also lead to other citations or even arrests. I’ve pulled drivers over for a light being out over the back license plate and found drugs or firearms in the car."

Lewis lives in North Canton. He was born and raised in Canton and graduated Central Catholic High School. His mother lives in North Canton and his father lives in Jackson Township.

While Lewis isn’t into winning awards, he said his parents and family are ecstatic and proud.

"It’s an honor to have been recognized. I don’t mind getting a pat on the back every now and then for working hard but being able to do the job and do it well is what’s most important. Any one of our officers could have easily won this award," Lewis said. "I want to thank my Chief and Lieutenant for nominating me and thank my family for support me. And, I’d like to thank Stark County Safe Communities for selecting me."