Miami County law enforcement set aside time – and the increasingly stressful demands of the job – April 13 to recognize the efforts of those who work daily to protect and serve people across the county.

“Too many times you hear of bad things that officers do. Now, tonight, we get to tell what officers do that are good, how great they are and what they do out there on the road and in the jail,” said Billie Ray, president of Miami County Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 58, in opening the 3rd annual Miami County Law Enforcement Awards Ceremony at the Covington K-8 school.

Sheriff Dave Duchak said in his comments that his 30th year in the profession is probably the most
difficult as agencies deal with the “human trauma” of heroin, second guessing of law enforcement actions and “keyboard lawyers on social media.”

“It takes some pretty special and amazing people to do this job day in and day out,” he said.

However, the sheriff reminded law enforcement professionals that the vast majority of their fellow county residents appreciate them more than they realize. “There is way more good than bad and society needs each of you now more than ever,” Duchak said.

Among those recognized was Bruce Mancz, the Tipp City Police Department’s Officer of the Year. Chief Eric Burris said Mancz, a 28-year department veteran, received six of the 13 nominations submitted by fellow officers, more than any other officers have received.

“Even after all of his years of public service he still comes to work with a smile and he still treats the public with respect,” one of those nominating Mancz wrote.

Tipp City police and the other departments base the officer of the year selections on nominations from coworkers.

Sheriff Duchak recognized Deputy Chase Underwood as the Deputy of the Year and Correction Officer Perry Gullette as the Correction Officer of the Year.

Duchak said Underwood “always comes to work with a positive attitude ... (that is) contagious.”

Gullette was recognized for his example for fellow officers and the confidence of supervisors who utilize him as a field training officer.

Recognized by Duchak with Life Saving Awards were Lt. Nate Collett and correction officers Mark Larger, Gullette and Angel Robinson for efforts to save a jail inmate who overdosed. Commendations were awarded to Lt. Mike Marion and secretaries Carol Foster and Rene Ingle for assuming added duties to continue service for concealed weapons permits following the loss of a fellow employee last fall.

Also receiving Lifesaving Awards from the sheriff were Deputy Richard Manns for efforts in response to a heart attack victim; Deputy Scott Lade, for his response to a traffic accident in which three children were trapped; Deputy Scott Leininger for handling of a suicidal male; Deputy Jeremy Adams (two awards) for response to overdoses; and Deputy Ryan Stein for efforts assisting an elderly woman.

Sheriff’s commendations were awarded to Deputy Nathan Jessup for traffic enforcement efforts; Deputy Brad Kline for information leading to narcotics investigation in 2013 that culminated in eight indictments last August; and Lt. Michael Whaley and Deputy Warren Edmondson for revamping the Citizens Police Academy program.

Recognized by the Fraternal Order of Police with Community Service Awards were Ptlm. Jeremy Weber of Piqua police and civilians Jocinda Johns and Jamie Stahl for their work with Pennies for Malisa in honor of a four-year-old abused and killed in Piqua in 2012. The fundraising efforts have allowed for purchase of a headstone for Malisa’s grave. Also recognized with FOP Community Service Awards were Capt. Tom Wheeler and Capt. Dave Norman for their efforts following the death in November of long-time Sheriff Charles Cox.

Others recognized during the program were:

Covington Police Department by Chief Lee Harmon: Officer Tim Cline, Officer of the Year

Miami County 9-1-1 by Director Jeff Busch: Shannon Adams, Employee of the Year

Ohio State Highway Patrol by Lt. Joe Gebhart: Trooper Eric Devers, Trooper of the Year; Dispatcher Ashley Thomas, Dispatcher of the Year; and Sgt. Dave Robison, State Chiaramonte Humanitarian Award winner.

Piqua Police Department by Chief Bruce Jamison: Officer Jeremy Koehler, Officer of the Year; Officer Adams Kimpel, Alan Yount and Deputy Chief Marty Grove, Lifesaving Awards.

Troy Police Department, Chief Charles Phelps presented no awards

West Milton Police Department by Chief Harry Busse: Officer Ryan Ingle, Officer of the Year.

Ray also recognized Rena Gumerlock, the sheriff’s administrative assistant,

“She is behind the scenes but she should be recognized.” Ray said Gumerlock helps put the program together with tasks such as printing out the recognitions awarded. “I want to personally thank her for the job that she does,” he said to applause for Gumerlock.