Spartanburg Police officers honored at annual banquet

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SPARTANBURG, SC (WSPA) – Spartanburg Police officers are being honored for their work protecting the community.

The department held its annual awards banquet Thursday at Bethel United Methodist Church.

Officers, civilian employees, and their families attended.

Awards were given for non-sworn employee, community service, rookie officer, officer of the year, investigator of the year, life-saving, distinguished service, leadership, chief’s award of excellence, and unit citation.  

Department leaders hope this motivates officers to continue in the field.

“They want to be officers, want to do a good job but there’s competition from businesses and so officers could choose another profession,” said Spartanburg Police Major Art Littlejohn. “We want them to stay here, we invested a lot of time and money in them and we want them to enjoy their career so we think that this increases morale.” 

Major Littlejohn said the banquet is also a chance to celebrate the department’s accomplishments over the past year.

See below for award recipients and why they’re awarded, courtesy of Spartanburg Police Department: 

Police Unit Citation#1- Cameron Adams, Ashley Smith, Joshua Sexton, Alex Simmons, De-Juan Shell, Brandon Staggs, Jimmy Chappell, Roderick Fowler, Jonathan Presley, Chad Renix, and Michael Massa
On November 14, 2018, officers responded to a location in the City following an officer involved shooting. Officers utilized their training and worked as a team to quickly render aid to the suspect, secure the scene and preserve evidence. While every officer has it in their heart to assist during critical situations, each understand that normal operations cannot cease and officers must still respond to all calls for assistance. C Platoon officers demonstrated their commitment to team and professionally completed every necessary task without being directed to do so.

Police Unit Citation #2- Officers Adam Bailey and Joshua Gioia 
In December 2018, officers had an encounter with a subject at City Hall following the subject’s appearance in court. The subject was considered as a possible suspect from a hit and run traffic fatality. Two officers established a report with the suspect and later interviewed him about his possible involvement in the traffic fatality. After extensive questioning, the officers were able to obtain a confession and apology from the subject who acknowledged that he had in fact committed the crime he was suspected of. 

Non-Sworn Employee of the Year – Administrative Assistant Tia Koupaxa
The employee being honored this year for the non-sworn employee award is a person who is responsible for accommodating the entire Police Department. Despite the overwhelming demands for their attention, combined with a hectic schedule, this individual always does their job with a smile and a positive attitude. Coworkers describe our honoree as having a willing spirit and a friendly smile.

Community Service Award – Police Officer II Trisha Wright
This honoree has served the department for a little over five years. The majority of their tenure has been with the Patrol Division, however in recent years they have had the opportunity to work in a division where there are opportunities to increase community involvement with youth. This employee volunteers their personal time in order to serve young women in the community. The employee spends time coaching youth sports and mentoring young people. The employee has also worked closely with the school system implementing school safety training protocols for teachers and students.

Distinguished Service Award – Lt. Lee Raines
This honoree has served the Spartanburg Police Department for more than 20 years. This employee is a huge advocate not only for the police department but also for the City of Spartanburg and the entire Spartanburg Community. This employee goes beyond their normal daily duties and works intensely to provide for others. When being nominated for this award, the submitting individual stated the following: The officer was assisting a young female with unloading furniture which she had received from SPIHN (Spartanburg Interfaith Hospitality Network) and assisted the young lady with finding employment at the AC Hotel. 

Police Leadership Award – Sergeant Stephen McClure
This honoree has been with the department for 12 years. This employee has held several positions and shouldered many different responsibilities. This employee has excellent communication skills, both written and verbal. This person is a leader that ensures things are done consistently, correctly and on time. Sgt. McClure has trained every officer in the department. 

Life Saving Award – Lieutenant Alan Bledsoe
On July 15, 2018, our honoree received a phone call from dispatch that a young man was on top of one of the downtown garages threatening to jump. This officer searched several of the garages in the downtown area until he found the young man at the top of the Magnolia Street Garage. The officer exited his vehicle and slowly approached the young man who was standing at the edge of a wall. The young man shared that he was tired of it all and wanted to end it. The officer calmly talked with the young man until other officers arrived. This officer instructed others to position themselves where they would be in a position to interrupt the young man’s fall should he carryout his threat to jump. After continued dialogue, the officer was able to convince the young man that help was available. The young man began to cry and reached out to the officer accepting the opportunity for assistance.  

Life Saving Award – MPO Derrick Canada
On December 1, 2018, while at the Soup Kitchen, a citizen informed an officer that a man was on the ground beside a trash can. As the officer approached the man, he observed that subject was unresponsive and appeared to be in distress. Based on the symptoms demonstrated by the subject, the officer recognized the need to administer Narcan. The subject was responsive to the drug and became alert after which he was transported to the hospital for treatment. 

Life Saving Award – Officer Joseph Eggleston
On May 18, 2018, this officer was dispatched to a man down call in the area of N. Forest St. and Oliver St. The officer arrived on scene and noticed a man on the ground on his back with his hands above his head. The man was unresponsive to the officer. While checking the subject’s vital signs, the officer observed that the subject was breathing. The officer attempted to wake the man by calling his name and conducting a sternum rub. The officer quickly retrieved his issued Narcan and administered a dose to the man. The man became responsive and started speaking after which he was transported to the hospital for additional medical treatment. 

Life Saving Award – Officer Joshua Gioia
On August 24, 2018 an officer responded to Canaan Pointe Drive in reference to a possible drug overdose. The officer was flagged down by a citizen and informed that the victim was on the floor at the top of the stairs. The officers entered the apartment and observed a male on the floor. The officer observed that the male had shallow breathing. The officer attempted to wake the man by calling his name and conducting a sternum rub. The officer quickly retrieved his issued Narcan and administered a dose to the man. The man became responsive and started speaking after which he was transported to the hospital for additional medical treatment. 

Life Saving Award – MPO Ronnie Horn
On August 8, 2018, an officer responded to a call to locate an attempted armed robbery suspect. The officer received information that the suspect was on a train trestle above a busy roadway. The officer calmly approached the subject who was leaning over the edge of the trestle. The officer recognized that the man was in the process of jumping and quickly grabbed him by the leg which prevented the subject from falling to his demise. 
 
Life Saving Award – Officer Timothy Hancock, Lt. Billy Mabry, Officer Isaiah Parham, Sgt. Laurance Patz, and Officer Nicholas Swindler
On November 10, 2018, officers responded to 299 N. Church Street in reference to a citizen threatening suicide. As one officer was communicating with the subject through the suicide hotline, other officers were on scene attempting to locate the subject inside the building. Another officer was able to identify the subject through social media which helped to determine the subject’s exact location. Officers also determined that the subject was armed with a handgun. The officers worked with hotel staff to evacuate other guests who were in rooms near the armed subject. Officers continued to work as a team and were able to successfully negotiate with the subject convincing her to accept assistance from a mental health professional. The officers were honored for their ability to deliver prompt and compassionate police intervention during a potentially deadly incident.

Problem Solving – Officer Joshua Sexton
Our honoree for the problem-solving award has been with the department almost three years. This employee has been noted as having excellent organizational skills which allows them to analyze crimes differently. The employee uses their non directed time to provide extra patrols in areas of concern in order to reduce future crime occurrences. This officer also maintains a visible presence in the business areas of their district while engaging in positive interaction with citizens. These positive encounters have reduced the number of calls for service in his area. 

Investigator of the Year – Ronnie Horn
The honoree is described as a person that LITERALLY hits the ground running to get the job done. This individual having several years of experience and not to mention being computer savvy has contributed greatly to the department.  Certainly a team member to be reckoned with, for they go Above and beyond the call of duty by the diligence displayed on domestic violence and shop lifting cases. This individual is ALWAYS positive and carries a personality the never fails to brighten he day of all of whom they come into contact with. 

Rookie Police Officer of the Year – Officer Kegan Kelley
This honoree is an excellent team player, who is motivated and cares about the safety of others. This person has been commended by their supervisor for making good decisions and displaying a calm demeanor on all calls for service. Police work is a calling and for this officer their dedication to the City of Spartanburg is a true example of service above self.  

Police Officer of the Year – Officer Tanaya Turpin
This honoree is noted as a hard worker and a leader amongst their assigned team. This employee is also a FTO for the department and does an excellent job training new recruits. Supervisors describe this person as having a positive attitude and does not complain when tasked with assignments. They are self-driven and rarely takes time off and has successfully managed work and college maintaining an excellent GPA. They are reliable, extremely knowledgeable and has a vast knowledge and understanding of the law. Supervisors noted that this person comes in early and stays late.

Officer Turpin has recently been accepted in a Doctoral Degree program in Washington DC. Later this summer, she will separate from the department to pursue her dreams of excel in another area. 

Chief’s Award of Excellence in Honor of MPO Jason G. Harris –  Captain Timothy R. Suber
This person is a dedicated employee who loves the City of Spartanburg and the Spartanburg Police Department. The honoree invests in their team mates and works diligently to help lift all those around them rise to a higher level of excellence. This individual is personable and never meets a stranger. The honoree devotes countless hours to volunteering locally, on a state level and nationally. This person pours into young people to help change their fate in life. 

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