|Major John Allard, PIO Office, 785-2415, 24-Hour Press Box: 799-2001, Ext. 1100|
Deputy of the Year Awards Banquet
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation on Thursday, February 20 presented awards to six Lexington County Sheriff’s Department employees and three persons who volunteer their time to work with the Sheriff’s Department. The awards were presented during the 2013 Deputy of the Year Awards Banquet that the foundation conducted on Thursday night.
Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts thanked the Sheriff’s Foundation for its continuing support of the Sheriff’s Department. The foundation is a non-profit group that purchases equipment, training and other items for Sheriff’s Department deputies that can be difficult to acquire through the governmental budget process.
The Sheriff’s Foundation presented the following awards during the awards banquet:
DEPUTY OF THE YEAR: Deputy Samuel Smith
Smith, 29, of Columbia, serves as a deputy on a road patrol shift in the South Region Patrol District, which is based in Pelion. On October 31, 2011, Metts appointed Smith to serve as a deputy.
In 2013, Smith earned two Sheriff’s Department Major Case Contribution Awards. Smith located two motor vehicles that had been reported stolen to the Columbia Police Department, identified a suspect in connection with the vehicle thefts and arrested the person who stole the two motor vehicles. Smith also identified two suspects in a drive-by shooting near Gaston and quickly disseminated that information to other deputies, who located and arrested the two persons who were involved in the shooting incident.
In addition, Metts recognized Smith as the Sheriff’s Department Employee of the Quarter for the third quarter of 2013. Metts also presented the agency’s Life Saving Award to Smith.
On September 19, 2013, Smith rendered aid to Jessica Baumgart who had suffered a seizure and was locked in her motor vehicle, which was parked outside a convenience store on U.S. 21 near Swansea, Metts said. Smith found that Baumgart had suffered a head injury and was finding it difficult to breathe while she was sitting in a slumped position in her motor vehicle outside the convenience store at 1160 Highway 21.
Smith broke out a window in the rear of Baumgart’s motor vehicle, unlocked the driver’s door on the vehicle and placed Baumgart in an upright position so that she could begin breathing normally, Metts said. Smith provided support for Baumgart’s head in order to ensure that she could continue to breathe normally while they awaited the arrival of Lexington County Emergency Medical Services personnel.
Emergency Medical Services personnel transported Baumgart to a hospital, where Baumgart received medical treatment for her injuries and medical condition, Metts said.
“Samuel reacted quickly and professionally in rendering aid to a person who was experiencing a medical emergency,” Metts said. “Baumgart would have faced a life-threatening situation if Samuel had not intervened and made it possible for Baumgart to breathe normally.”
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Designated Immigration Officer Kevin Farley
Farley, 59, of Irmo, enforces federal immigration laws at the Lexington County Detention Center under the supervision of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). On February 25, 2008, Metts appointed Farley to serve as a correctional officer.
In November 2013, Metts presented the Sheriff’s Medal, which is the highest law enforcement honor that the sheriff can bestow, to Farley in recognition of the 2013 Partnership for Public Safety Award that Farley received from ICE. Farley was honored for going above his normal duties to support ICE’s mission. Farley was one of only three recipients nationally of the Partnership for Public Safety Award, and Farley was the only correctional officer who received the award from ICE.
Kevin M. Thompson, who serves as an enforcement and removal operations supervisor for ICE in Columbia, said Farley consistently exceeds expectations as a designated immigration officer at the Detention Center.
“This award is a partnership award, and Kevin’s flawless work jumped out at us,” Thompson said. “Kevin keeps up with changes in the process and has been fantastic to work with. Kevin personifies the partnerships that we rely upon.”
In 2010, the Sheriff’s Department signed an agreement with ICE to enforce federal immigration laws at the Detention Center under ICE’s supervision. ICE provided training for Farley as part of the Section 287(g) Immigration Authority Delegation Program. ICE pays the Sheriff’s Department to house inmates who are in ICE’s custody at the Detention Center.
CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: Thomas “Tom” Robinson, III
Robinson, 69, of Leesville, works as the adult special services coordinator, serving as an advocate for senior citizens in Lexington County, Metts said. Robinson has worked with the Sheriff’s Department since April 6, 2006.
Robinson has demonstrated a passion for assisting senior citizens and their relatives, Metts said. Robinson provides victims’ assistance services for senior citizens and helps educate senior citizens about what they can do to remove opportunities for criminals to commit crimes.
“Tom has a genuine concern for the citizens whom he serves,” Metts said. “Tom also has demonstrated a real passion for assisting senior citizens and their families.”
In December 2013, Robinson assisted several South Carolina government agencies in removing clients from an assisted-living facility that was closed by order of the state, Metts said. The investigation to protect the health and welfare of the senior citizens at the facility required great discretion and professionalism on Robinson’s part in dealing with multiple agencies.
THE BRIAN S. MILLS FIRST-YEAR DEPUTY AWARD: Deputy Lauren Creech
Creech, 26, of Irmo, works as a deputy on a road patrol shift in the North Region Patrol District, which is based near Irmo, Metts said. On August 6, 2012, Metts appointed Creech to serve as a deputy. Creech has shown a strong commitment to enhance the quality of life for citizens and demonstrated excellent customer service skills.
In February 2013, Creech responded to a call concerning an incident in which the suspect dragged the victim out of his motor vehicle on Mineral Springs Road and broke the victim’s leg, Metts said. Creech obtained statements from witnesses and arrested the suspect.
Creech also investigated a case in which an employee at an apartment complex near Irmo stole items from the victim’s apartment at the apartment complex, Metts said.
Creech took photographs, interviewed witnesses, obtained an arrest warrant for the person who stole items from the victim’s apartment and arrested the person, Metts said. Creech recovered all of the items that had been stolen from the victim’s apartment.
Irmo Magistrate Rebecca Adams, who has presided over cases that Creech handled, said Creech is “totally professional and impressive with her knowledge and expertise.”
“Lauren has shown a determination to fully complete her calls for service, including the arrest and prosecution of persons who commit crimes,” Metts said. “Her level of professionalism and determination in solving criminal cases is unusual for a young law enforcement officer.”
OUTSTANDING FIRST-LINE SUPERVISOR: Sgt. Jeff Weed
Weed, 51, of Columbia, supervises a road patrol shift in the North Region Patrol District, Metts said. On November 13, 1989, Metts appointed Weed to serve as a deputy.
“Jeff has demonstrated that he is one of the most effective supervisors with the Sheriff’s Department,” Metts said.
In May 2013, Weed supervised the handling of a call for service concerning a woman who tried to initiate a fraudulent electronic transmission of more than $133,000 from a Bank of America branch near Irmo, Metts said. Weed and the deputies under his command detained the woman so that she could be interviewed by fraud detectives and U.S. Secret Service agents. The woman was involved in a multi-million dollar, multi-jurisdictional fraud case.
In July 2013, Weed supervised a manhunt for a man who was seen breaking into a motor vehicle, Metts said. The man was arrested and charged with committing a string of motor vehicle break-ins in the Irmo community.
In August 2013, Weed helped coordinate a fund raiser in partnership with the Irmo Fire District at a restaurant on Harbison Boulevard to benefit the Jeff Chavis House, which serves relatives of patients at the Joseph M. Still Burn Center in Augusta, Ga., Metts said.
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Resident Deputy Stacey Gadson
Gadson, 37, of Lexington, serves as the resident deputy in the Three Fountains community, Metts said. On May 1, 2000, Metts appointed Gadson to serve as a deputy.
“Stacey serves as an outstanding liaison between the Sheriff’s Department and citizens in the Three Fountains community,” Metts said.
Gadson has helped coach the Law Dawgs football team in the Lexington Youth League, which is comprised of boys who attend a middle school, Metts said. The Law Dawgs finished second in league play in 2013 and placed six players on the league’s all-star team.
Gadson has been a member of the Cayce-West Columbia Lions Club since 2009, Metts said. Gadson has participated in eye and hearing screening tests that the Lions Club provides free of charge to students at elementary schools and middle schools in order to ensure that children receive proper medical treatment for deficiencies in their hearing and vision.
Since 2011, Gadson in partnership with the Lions Club has coordinated an annual drive called Operation Recycling for Sight and Sound, which has resulted in the donation of more than 3,000 eyeglasses and hearing aids that were distributed to children, Metts said.
Since 2010, Gadson in partnership with Lexington Interfaith Community Services (LICS) has coordinated an annual drive called Coats for Kids, which has resulted in the donation of more than 1,200 winter coats and other winter clothing apparel to children, Metts said.
RESERVE DEPUTY OF THE YEAR: Reserve Sgt. John Lookabill
Metts appointed Lookabill, 64, of Lexington, to serve as a reserve deputy on April 6, 2006. Since 2006, Lookabill has volunteered at least 1,500 hours of his time annually, working with deputies in virtually every unit and division at the Sheriff’s Department.
In 2013, Lookabill transported Lexington County Detention Center inmates to and from court. Lookabill served or tried to serve more than 700 civil papers. Lookabill served more than 230 arrest warrants. Lookabill also provided 80 hours of security for courtrooms.
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Tracy Anderson
Anderson, 45, of Lexington, volunteers her time to work with the Sheriff’s Department, providing professional photography and event-planning services, Metts said. Anderson regularly uses her own equipment and supplies to assist the Sheriff’s Department. On October 18, 2011, Metts gave approval for Anderson to work as a volunteer with the Sheriff’s Department.
In 2013, Anderson volunteered 453 hours of her time to work with the Sheriff’s Department, Metts said. Anderson is assisting with the agency’s Historical Project, taking photographs around the county, interviewing persons about the history of the Sheriff’s Department and collecting documents.
EXPLORER OF THE YEAR: Lt. Morgan Taylor
Taylor, 16, of Gilbert, has been a member of Sheriff’s Department Explorers Post #106 since September 2012, Metts said. In 2013, Taylor completed 115 hours of law enforcement-related training and also volunteered his time by working 76 hours at community events.
Taylor is a sophomore at Pelion High School, Metts said. Taylor’s father, Chris, said his son “lives and breathes law enforcement.”