Newton Falls – The officers of the Newton Falls Police Department were honored Friday during an annual awards ceremony luncheon held at the Covered Bridge Restaurant’s banquet hall. Department members and invited guests gathered to recap the various events of 2010 and to give tribute to the everyday heroes in blue who protect the city. Among those city officials present were Mayor Waddell, City Clerk Kathy King, and City Manager Jack Haney; the latter offered a gracious blessing to open the proceedings.
Chief John Kuivila announced that there were forty-three more awards this year than there were last year resulting from the courageous actions of the department over the course of approximately 16,000 calls for service. He is “looking forward to a great 2011” and hopes to decrease the need for that volume of calls for aid, making our town safer as a result.
Among the commendations presented were military service awards, perfect attendance in 2010, certificates of appreciation for the NFPD auxiliary, recognition for involvement in the Fill-a-Bus efforts, various community service participations, civic achievements, and overall good conduct awards. There was even a mention for Gator the Police Dog and his two-legged companion, Officer Laswell, for their roles in a recent capture. The list continued with mission-specific honors for officers’ roles in incidents such as successfully recovering a missing juvenile, the marijuana bust, and the extraordinary dispatching during the major house fire last fall, just to name a few.
Turning the tables for a moment, Officer Sheri Bailey spoke about how the police department is like a family: they support each other like a family, they have fun like a family, and they even fight like a family, but when all is said and done they will always be there for each other. As she stated, it is because of the leader of the family, the chief, that they are able to succeed. Officer Bailey presented an acronym (because we all know the police department loves acronyms) in honor of the Chief: the “C” is for “Courageous,” the “H” is for “Helpful,” the “I” is for “Integrity,” the “E” stands for “Exceptional,” and the “F” is for “Friend.” In a show of appreciation for his influence and involvement in the department, she played a video of comments from the public for the Chief and fellow officers. Several co-stars of the film gave a simple “shout-out” to the Chief and the department in general. Whether delivered with serious gratitude or threaded in a good-natured joke, “It’s a pleasure working with him and to have him here in Newton Falls,” was an echoed sentiment throughout. The tribute concluded with a photo slideshow set to the strains of the humorously appropriate “Jailhouse Rock.”
Chief Kuivila responded to the accolades by saying “It’s nice to look back over the past couple years,” but stressed that “It’s about all of us, not just me.”
One man in attendance with serious gratitude for the quick actions of the police department is Daniel Bowers whose heart stopped in November. Sergeant Rick Lisum and Officer Dave Garvey successfully used an AED to save his life. Mr. Bowers was on hand to present the Life Saving Award to these men.
The ceremony concluded with the presentation of other Life Saving Awards, as well as a special appreciation to the Covered Bridge for their help toward the police department throughout the year. It was announced that the Officer of the Year is Andy Harvey with the Sergeant of the Year being Steve Storm and Dispatcher of the Year Jim Zimomra. Ending on a humorous note, last but not least was an award given to Charlie Wilson: Most Unreliable Person Affiliated with the Newton Falls Police Department.
Congratulations to all the officers and a continued gratitude for a job well done!