TEXARKANA – The Wilbur Smith Rotary Club has announced this year’s recipients of its Public Safety Officers of the Year awards.
Each year, the club rewards police and firefighters on both sides of the border.
No lunches or ceremonies were held this year due to COVID-19, but officers and firefighters from eight departments are still in the spotlight.
This year’s winners are:
Texas Department of Public Safety – Private Lee Shavers with the Highway Patrol Division. Shavers began his career with the Department in 2014. During this time, he embodied the core values of integrity, excellence, responsibility and teamwork, according to his supervisors.
In October 2020, Shavers was working on traffic watch in rural Bowie County when he observed a car driving erratically. He triggered a traffic stop on the car and made contact with a female driver who appeared to be in the middle of a medical emergency and was on her way to an Oklahoma hospital. There were several inconsistencies with the situation, but Shavers gathered as much information as he could while still providing the necessary medical attention. Shortly after that traffic stop, Shavers was made aware of an ongoing homicide investigation occurring not far from his location and the driver at his stop matched the suspect’s description. Thanks to this skillful investigation as well as his attention to detail, he proved to be a valuable asset to the investigation.
Less than a month later, Shavers was sent into a car accident. The car was upside down and submerged in Hooks Bayou. Three teenage girls died in the accident. Shavers displayed professionalism and skillful investigation in his delicate handling of the scene and later in the crash investigation.
Texarkana Texas Police Department – Officer Dustin Johnson served with the service for three years. He serves as a patrol officer in the operations division.
In May, Johnson admitted his battered area was plagued by vehicle burglars, particularly at one of the local apartment complexes. Johnson investigated and discovered what he believed to be a trail used by thieves to get in and out of the complex without warning. He then joined his partners during the shift and developed a preventive patrol plan. On May 23, he was patrolling the compound on foot when he located suspects of vehicle break-ins. The agent was able to stop the thieves by intercepting them on the same trail discovered by Agent Johnson.
Three days later, Johnson was working on the ban on USHighway 59 when he arrested and arrested suspects carrying 26 pounds of cocaine. Johnson is a team player whose work ethic is second to none, according to his supervisors.
Texarkana Texas Fire Department – Firefighter Cody Shields was selected for this honor by his peers for his exceptional service during a recent medical call. On August 5, Shields and his team were sent on a call where a woman was in active labor. When the crew arrived at the scene, Shields determined that delivery was imminent. He and the ambulance team left for the hospital, and along the way, Shields delivered the baby while the paramedic looked after the mother.
Shields has worked for TTFD for four years and has a record of hard work and a desire to help anyone he comes in contact with. Cody holds certifications as a structural firefighter and wildland firefighter with the Texas Commission on Fire Protection and is a certified EMT.
Texarkana Arkansas Fire Department – Firefighter Nathan Reeves served the city as a certified firefighter and licensed EMT for 17 years. On January 4, B-Crew was dispatched to a house fire. The structure was heavily involved in the fire. Neighbors indicated that a resident may still be inside. The crew entered to perform a primary search and fire attack. Conditions rapidly deteriorated and the crew were called out of the structure. Upon exiting, the porch suffered a total collapse trapping Reeves. He suffered multiple injuries, including a serious injury to his leg. This injury required lengthy rehabilitation to return to work but, as is his nature, he returned to duty sooner than expected. On September 11, he represented the department by climbing 110 floors in the 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb. This event pays tribute to the firefighters killed at the World Trade Center.
Texarkana Arkansas Police Department – Sergeant Kyle Caudle. Caudle was assigned to the Narcotics Unit, as well as other units within the agency. He sets an example and earns the confidence of his officers. Sergeant Caudle does not hesitate to work side by side with his officers. He is fair to his officers but also has high expectations of their performance, according to his supervisors. Caudle was invited to take over the operations of the narcotics unit as the unit experienced massive turnover and had all new detectives. He took all of these changes head on with a good attitude.
The work that this unit is producing now is a direct result of its leadership and direction. Earlier this year, the city began to experience an increase in drug overdoses. These overdoses were related to pills containing fentanyl that were disguised as blue 30 milligram Oxycodone tablets. The Narcotics Unit has started to deal with all overdoses so as to divide the work between the Criminal Investigation Division and the Narcotics Unit. The Narcotics Unit was primarily responsible for tracing the source of the fentanyl-containing pills responsible for the victim’s overdose. The unit was able to seize thousands of pills containing fentanyl, guns, other drugs and dangerous goods.
In September, Caudle’s work culminated in the arrest of a large-scale methamphetamine supplier. Through its work, the Narcotics Unit was able to seize approximately one kilogram of suspected methamphetamine, three and a half pounds of marijuana, seven firearms, including a stolen assault rifle, and $ 24,000 in foreign currency. The defendant was charged with 14 counts.
Arkansas State Police – Private Jake Price. Price was assigned to G Troop and stationed in Nevada County. Trooper Price goes above and beyond in helping other agencies in his county and surrounding counties, according to his supervisors. Price was assigned to Nevada County for one year. During that time, he made 87 felony arrests, 175 misdemeanor arrests, served 110 warrants, arrested 19 impaired drivers, issued 810 citations, issued 988 warnings and assisted 96 motorists in need of assistance. He also investigated 50 motor vehicle crashes, seized 460 pounds of marijuana, one pound of methamphetamine and two ounces of cocaine.
Miller County Sheriff’s Office – Deputy Chief Mark Lewis has lived in Miller County for 35 years and has served the citizens of Miller County and Texarkana. During his career, he was notably a detective in the narcotics gang unit, commander of the CID and commanding officer. Lewis joined Miller County to simply be a training liaison, but accepted the chief assistant position when the department did not have one. Since then, he has not only served for four years, but has excelled there, creating a successful and safer environment not only for Miller County residents but also for members of the Sheriff’s Office, said Sheriff Jackie Runion.
Over the past year, as many administrators have been challenged by trying to run agencies during a pandemic, Lewis has continued to grow and improve the agency without sacrificing the safety of citizens or staff. . He helped develop and implement procedures that helped create a more competent operating environment in the Patrol Division. Lewis not only helped increase the agency’s success in terms of operations that led to a safer county, but he was also instrumental in creating a better agency environment for staff, which translates into a better workforce for the county. These improvements range from salary increases to better, up-to-date equipment. He was involved in the budgeting, planning, development and implementation of critical aspects for all sections of the sheriff’s office. level entities that can make decisions affecting the operations of the sheriff’s office.
Bowie County Sheriff’s Office – Captain David Grable has worked at the BCSO for 16 years and has always served the office with integrity and dedication, said Sheriff Jeff Neal. Grable is the commander of the Patrol Division, a unit decimated by COVID-19 and shortages of trained personnel. Grable worked to adjust schedules to work with quarantines, sometimes with just a few hours’ notice. He also added to the vacant patrol positions and prevented MPs from working without backup.