Five Gastonia Police officers were awarded Lifesaving medals during the Gastonia Police Department Awards Reception held May 9 at the Loray Mill Event Hall. About 40 other officers, civilian employees and volunteers were also recognized during the event made possible by generous donations from Homesteads Grill and the Gastonia Police Foundation.
“Our officers, civilian employees and volunteers make a great difference in our community, and we are very proud of them,” Gastonia Police Chief Robert Helton said.
Lifesaving medals went to Officers Christian McNabb, Adam Carpenter, Joe Bain, Allyson Koney and Jonathan Hayes.
- McNabb responded to a 911 call about a man sitting on the rail of the bridge over I-85 at Bessemer City Road. He was able to physically remove the man from the bridge railing before he could jump.
- Carpenter and Bain saved a woman from hanging herself. The woman survived and was treated.
- Koney and Hayes were dispatched to a drowning at a hotel swimming pool. Upon arrival, Hayes immediately began chest compressions on a 3-year-old who was not breathing. Koney took over chest compressions and helped position the child on his side until he started breathing.
Other awards were:
Officer of the Year
Sgt. Doug Carpenter was recognized as Officer of the Year for exemplary conduct he has demonstrated, faithfully executing the duties of his office, and beyond duty he has demonstrated character that epitomizes the mental and moral qualities that every officer should possess. “His unwavering love and dedication to his family is profound,” said Capt. Trent Conard, who serves as GPD’s Awards coordinator.
Detective Jim Bliss has the highest number of cases in the Criminal Investigations Division (CID), 242 cases throughout 2018 and through early May 2019. A passionate leader when it comes to financial crimes, Bliss is sought out by his colleagues as an expert.
Detective David Brogdon is a Task Force Officer (TFO) with the Federal Bureau of Investigation and has diligently worked with Organized Crime Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) cases since joining GPD’s Special Investigations Division. He has successfully indicted hundreds of suspects, is sought out by the Assistant U.S. Attorney for his methodical and precise cases, and he trains new agents and TFOs.
Detective Mike Watts spent numerous hours on the Maddox Ritch case, conducting numerous interviews, writing and obtaining specialized search warrants, and coordinating with multiple agencies. He has kept information flowing from the GPD to the FBI while seeking justice for the missing/deceased child.
Assistant Chief Ed Turas began the Pink Patch Project around three years ago and in 2018 he was able to get the program implemented with the assistance of Sgt. Nancy Brogdon by having the program funded through GPD’s Sergeants Association. The program sold 1,000 patches and all proceeds were donated to Cancer Services of Gaston County.
Unit Meritorious Service
Officer Sam Cain leads the department in DWI charges and enforcement with 49 DWI charges in 2018. Cain brings public acclaim to himself, the department and the police profession as a result of his devotion to duty and service to the public.
Detective Albert Fleming has served as a detective for 19 years out of his 22 years as a police officer. He is a firearms instructor and a Basic Law Enforcement Training instructor in Juvenile Law Procedures and Human Trafficking. He is an Assistant Team Leader with the Shift Tactical Team, serves on the Recruitment Team and is a former SWAT member. Fleming also makes presentations at local schools about bullying and cybercrimes, and is a mentor for several children.
Detective Heather Houser had the highest case clearance in CID in 2018. From January 2018 to early May, she was assigned 109 cases, which vary from homicides, aggravated assaults, robberies, kidnappings, property crimes and sexual offenses. She is the leader in sexual assault investigations and works hard to seek justice for victims.
- Officer Jesse Yager and K9 Officer Mike Lewis answered a breaking and entering call that involved a 10-year-old boy who was upset about a stolen game console, which had been given to him by his father. Money was raised within the shift to buy a new game console along with a TV and additional games, which were given to the young man at the GPD’s D-shift briefing. The event was videoed by his mother and word quickly spread through social media and various news outlets.
- Officers Matt Willis, Mike Lewis, Derrick Meek and Cody Huffstetler assisted the Oconee County Sheriff’s Office of Watkinsville, Ga., by looking for a suspect wanted for first degree murder. The suspect was believed to be to be armed with the murder weapon, a 40-caliber handgun. The suspect vehicle was located on Long Avenue and, when officers attempted to stop it, the suspect began shooting. Officers began pursuing the vehicle, were able to apprehend the suspect and located the murder weapon.
- Officer Robert Morell learned of the death of his former high school cross country running coach, a beloved figure in the community, and used his influence to enlist the aid of current and former students, along with current Gastonia and Gaston County Police Officers, to organize a candlelight vigil. Officer Morrell exhibited exemplary service by going beyond the scope of his normal duties.
- Casey Justice served in the Gastonia Police K9 Unit before his promotion to Patrol Sergeant and earned the TOP CASE for Region 2 of the U.S. Police Canine Association. That means Justice’s K9 track was considered the best track and find in North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. The award by the USPCA was given in recognition of outstanding performance in the detection and prevention of crime.
- Detective Carla Mastro was praised in a letter from the mother of a missing boy. In the letter the woman advised when she approached Mastro without an appointment, she received a compassionate, attentive and professional response. She went on to say that Mastro’s kindness “struck me and I knew quickly that I could trust her with my son’s case” and ended the letter saying she will not forget Mastro’s kindness.
- Officer Allyson Koney responded to a call where an 18-year-old autistic and schizophrenic female had assaulted her mother’s boyfriend with a knife. The woman then locked herself in the house with a knife and refused to come out. Koney was able to utilize her Crisis Intervention Team training to talk the woman out of the house and take her into custody without incident.
- Officers Steven Hoyle, David Rowland and Justin Padgett responded to a suicidal female who had stabbed herself in the leg. They quickly built a rapport with her, got her to put the knife down and took her into custody without further incident.
- Detectives Mike Watts, Robbie Bryson, Andrew Pate and Cody Edge received a tip that a murder suspect was in Gastonia. After multiple interviews, the detectives located the suspect vehicle at the suspect’s girlfriend’s residence. Bryson and Watts went to the front door and Pate and Edge went to the rear door. As soon as detectives approached, the suspect ran out the back door and detectives pursued him on foot. Pate was able to take the suspect into custody without any further incident.
- Officers Caleb Price, Cody Huffstetler and Fred Williams have gone above and beyond the call of duty to assist the Explorer Program for the GPD. The officers have assisted with the Active Shooter Team and taken time to assist at the Explorer Academy in Salemburg, NC. These officers set an example with their dedication to the program.
- K9 Officer Matthew Willis was assisting the Street Crime Unit on a subject with a weapon call, and was attempting to take the suspect into custody when the man attempted to flee on foot. In a struggle during the arrest, Willis suffered a fall resulting in torn ligaments and a separated shoulder. Despite the pain, Willis continued to pursue and take the subject into custody.
Civilian of the Year
Dawn Cross is the resident expert for all budgeting issues at the GPD and has improved monitoring and accounting for federal overtime work. She has performed dual duties in the absence of the administrative assistant for the chief of police. Her knowledge, skill and abilities reduce the amount of time required to process timesheets, overtime, and asset forfeiture deposits. Her work ethic and positive attitude make her a valuable employee.
Explorers of the Year
Noah Wise, Adam Knight and Brandon Sammons are Explorers of the Year. In 2018, Noah stepped up from captain to major. He competed in events and took first place in rock climbing. He has been with GPD’s Explorer Post for four years and has good meeting attendance.
Last June, Adam was awarded the Detective Mike Doty Award from the Explorer Academy in Salemburg. This award, previously known as the Advisors award, is for the Explorer who has shown leadership abilities and persevered through adversity during the week of training for Explorers. Adam has been an Explorer for three years and has stepped up in the captain’s roll.
Brandon is very skilled at computer technologies and social media. He heads the Explorer Facebook and Twitter accounts, and wrote a video/picture release form for the Explorers to have pictures on social media. Brandon has been an Explorer for two years with perfect attendance.
Caleb Price and Jacob Bowers have both served with commendable service as Patrol Training Officers.
Intermediate Law Enforcement Certificate
Robert Gammons, Alex Burns and Seth Canipe have earned the State of North Carolina’s Intermediate Law Enforcement Certificate.
Educational Achievement Award
Detective Cody Edge obtained his bachelor’s degree in criminal justice at the University of Western Carolina and graduated magna cum laude.
Officer Jonathan Hayes earned his master’s degree in criminal justice from the University of Arizona State.
Detective Eric Seagle received his master’s degree in criminal ustice from East Carolina University.
Sgt. Craig Singer received his master’s degree in criminal justice from East Carolina University.
Military Service Award
Maurice Taylor III – U.S. Navy
Noel Santoyo – U.S. Army
Derrick Newman – U.S. Army
Gastonia Police Sergeants Association’s TOP COP award
The GPD Sergeants Association presented Officer Sam Barksdale with the TOP COP award. “He has impressed his colleagues with his dedication to improve himself physically and mentally as demonstrated by his tenacity in making the SWAT team,” said Sgt. Brogdon. “In addition, he has the heart of a servant, which is the foundation of leaders, and he puts the needs of others ahead of his own. As a leader, he truly trains, guides and motivates his peers and challenges others to always improve.”