Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd presented the Members of the Year 2006 awards to the Deputy Sheriff, Detention Deputy, Civilian, Reserve Deputy, and Volunteer of the Year, during the PCSO Annual Awards ceremony at Nora Mayo Hall in Winter Haven Tuesday night, May 1, 2007. Sheriff Judd also presented several other awards of distinction.
The ceremony (this year’s theme was “Above and Beyond”) began with a video tribute to slain Deputy Sheriff Matt Williams and K-9 DiOGi, who were killed in the line of duty on September 28, 2006. Matt Williams’ widow, Nancy, and three children, Christopher, Jimmy, and Amanda, were then presented with the Sheriff’s Citation, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office’s highest honor bestowed, on Matt’s behalf. Matt Williams was also awarded the Medal of Honor and a Purple Heart Medal posthumously, and DiOGi was posthumously awarded the Canine Medal of Distinction.
Deputy Sheriff of the Year 2006 was awarded to Deputy Sheriff Doug Speirs, for his bravery during the fatal shooting of D/S Matt Williams by suspect Angilo Freeland on September 28, 2006. An excerpt from his award reads:
"When faced with imminent danger and bodily harm, Deputy Speirs stood his ground, firing at the killer in an attempt to protect his fallen comrade. Wounded and unable to effectively navigate the terrain, Deputy Speirs knew the best course of action was to seek help for himself and the canine team and direct law enforcement to find the suspect. Deputy Speirs limped and then crawled his way through the rugged terrain to seek help. When assistance arrived, Deputy Speirs had to be ordered into an ambulance to receive medical treatment, though he wanted to go with the search team to find Deputy Williams. While being treated for his gunshot wound Deputy Speirs provided the much-needed information that led a search team to Deputy Williams and his devoted partner, DiOGi.”
Doug was also presented with a Purple Heart Medal for his outstanding performance and serious injuries sustained in the line of duty.
Detention Deputy of the Year 2006 was awarded to Detention Deputy Donald Kurns, for his dependable, professional, and high-quality services provided year-round as a member of the Jail Transportation Unit. D/D Kurns is also a certified Detention Training Instructor and has been a member of the Detention Disturbance Team since 1993. D/D Kurns, through his coaching of the Lakeland Mid-Florida youth football league, is a positive mentor and role model for kids in the community, and exemplifies the commitment to excellence that the agency strives to uphold.
Civilian of the Year 2006 was presented to Eric Marlow, PCSO’s Chief Mechanic. During 2006, Eric was personally responsible for saving the agency $72,000 with his adaptation of the trunk security devices that are put into each patrol car. Last year, Eric also redesigned Fleet Operations in order to enhance customer service, and formulated a plan to make more efficient use of the Fleet facilities. His input was also integral to the agency’s decision to purchase Chevrolet Impalas, instead of Ford Crown Victorias, at a cost savings of $2,600 per vehicle, and ongoing gas mileage cost savings. Eric’s leadership, dedication, and loyalty, stand as an example for all to follow.
Reserve Deputy Sheriff of the Year 2006 was presented to Reserve Deputy Sheriff Robert Cerat. Reserve D/S Cerat retired from the Broward County Sheriff’s Office after 30 years of service and began working as a reserve deputy at PCSO’s Animal Control Section in February 2006. Reserve Deputy Cerat worked on average 15 cases a month, using his forensic detective skills to help with the seizures of abused animals and the prosecution of animal cruelty cases. His dependability and dedication to the Animal Control Section and his positive attitude have proven invaluable.
Volunteer of the Year 2006, a new award this year, was awarded to Richard “Dick” Fearnow. Dick Fearnow began his volunteer career with Polk County Sheriff’s Office on May 12, 2003. Since that time he has served as the supervisor over the Seniors vs. Crime office. Seniors vs. Crime is a partnership between the Polk County Sheriff’s Office and the Office of Attorney General for the State of Florida, assisting senior citizens who have become victims of fraud or unprofessional business practices. During 2006, 123 cases were reviewed by the Seniors vs. Crimes volunteers. As a result of Dick Fearnow’s volunteer leadership, more than $21,000 in funds were recovered for citizens, and a total of 1,435 volunteer hours were donated to this cause last year. Dick Fearnow’s commitment to the citizens of Polk County and fighting for the rights of its senior population is exemplary.
Other medals of distinction presented during the ceremony:
Medals of Valor were presented to: Sgt. Andrew Williams, D/S David Clements, D/S Billy Osborne, D/S Michael Parker, D/S Kevin Loder, Detective Deva Venrick, D/D Terry Brown, D/D Matthew Chovan, Bailiff Stephen Wood, LPD Officers Sgt. Jeff Birdwell and Jose Bosque;
Meritorious Service Medals were presented to: Lt. Roger Robinson, Sgt. Kevin Marshall, D/D Matthew Chovan, Sgt. Ronnie Brown, Sgt. Gerald Dorman, Bailiff Anton Striz, D/S Richard Caldwell, D/S James Scarborough, D/D Barry Berman, D/D Mark MacFawn, Jr., Ms. Gwinnell Brant, Ms. Cassandra Denmark, Mr. Ken Grimes, Mr. Scott Wilder, Captain Mike Allen, Captain Kurt Lockwood, Mr. Nick Staszko, Sgt. Ricky Reese, Sgt. Dan Pennell, D/S Sharon Rawson, Ms. Diane Dodge, Lt. Garry James, Detective Sandra Scherer, Sgt. Christen Shea, D/S Anthony Allaire;
Purple Heart Medals were presented to: D/S Matt Williams (posthumously), D/S Marc Newsom, D/S Doug Speirs.
Runners-up for Members of the Year: Detective Theresa Edmistion, Detective Timothy Sanders, D/S Tammy Wagner, D/D Barry Berman, Bailiff Anton Striz, Ms. Karen Evans, Ms. Christian Wood.