January 8, 2004
Lawrence W. Crow, Jr.
Rodgers, (863) 534-6217 OR (863) 819-1856, Pager
Polk Deputies Receive Top Two Honors from Polk County Police Chiefs
Two Polk County Sheriff's deputies were recently awarded by the Polk County Police Chiefs'
Association at a ceremony on Saturday, January 3, 2003, by being named Law Enforcement
Officer of the Year for Polk County, and runner-up.
D/S Robert Arndt, a 5-year veteran of the agency currently assigned to Northwest District
patrol, was named L.E. Officer of the Year for his heroic efforts in saving the life of a driver
trapped in a burning vehicle.
On February 1, 2003, D/S Arndt responded to the scene of a serious 3-car crash at the
intersection of I-4 and Hwy 33 in Lakeland. The occupant of one of the vehicles, which was
ablaze, had suffered head trauma, and was pinned inside the car. D/S Arndt immediately
requested assistance from EMS and other law enforcement, and attempted to extinguish the
blaze with 2 different fire extinguishers. When that was unsuccessful, D/S Arndt obtained a
third extinguisher and crawled under the burning vehicle to get at the blaze in the engine
compartment. He was successful in putting out the fire to the vehicle, which had begun to
leak fuel, while inhaling a portion of the extinguishing agent himself.
D/S Pilot Milton "Nat" Manning, an 8-year veteran of the agency and one of the agency's
pilots, was named runner-up for the high honor for his lifesaving efforts in rescuing a capsized
boater last year.
On October 5, 2003, the Polk County Sheriff's Office responded to a boating accident and
possible drowning of a 12-year-old child at Crystal Lake in Lakeland. Pilot Manning
responded in the agency helicopter to search the lake. Manning spotted an unknown male
frantically paddling a jon boat towards the area where the boats were searching for the child,
and he flew in that man's direction in attempt to deter him from the area. The man was standing
in the bow of the small boat unsteadily, and the boat suddenly capsized.
Pilot Manning was immediately aware that the man could not swim, and knew the other boats
were too far away to rescue the man. Pilot Manning swiftly dropped his helicopter down and
placed a skid in the water where he had seen the man disappear. Fortunately, the man
resurfaced and grabbed the skid, and Manning was able to hold him until boaters could arrive
and pull him from the water. It was later learned the man had feared his 12-year-old son, who
was late from school that day, was the drowning victim. The man was also recovering from
lung cancer, and would have surly perished in the water had Pilot Manning not acted so
quickly and so skillfully in rescuing him from harm's way.