2012/2013 Awards and Recognition

On March 1, 2013, the Paducah Police Department held its 4th Annual Awards Ceremony to honor officers and civilians who have risen above their routine duties and responsibilities and provided exceptional service to the department and the citizens of Paducah.  Click Awards and Recognition Criteria for a list of the possible awards and the criteria used in judging.

Awards and Recognition Recipients for 2012/2013

Life Saving Award

  Sgt. George Johnson
 Sgt. George Johnson (nominated by Capt. Mark Roberts) 

On June 16, 2012, Sgt. George Johnson responded to assist McCracken County sheriff’s deputies on a call of a suicidal man on the Brookport Bridge.  Sgt. Johnson was the first crisis negotiator to arrive, and he began communicating with the man who had climbed 75 feet up the superstructure of the bridge and was threatening to jump into the Ohio River 190 feet below.  For 20 minutes, Sgt. Johnson used his skills and experience as the sole negotiator to de-escalate the situation prior to the arrival of a negotiator from the sheriff’s department.  Sgt. Johnson and Capt. J.T. Coleman of the McCracken County Sheriff’s Department talked with the man for the next hour, finally convincing him to allow firefighters to bring him down on their aerial ladder. 

  Officer Travis Watson

Officer Davis Carroll

 Officer Travis Watson and Officer David Carroll (nominated by Sgt. Wes Orazine)

On January 25, 2013, officers were dispatched to the Country Hearth Inn for a report of an infant that was not breathing.  When officers David Carroll and Travis Watson arrived, they found the infant was not breathing and had no pulse.  The officers performed CPR on the child until they were relieved by members of the Paducah Fire Department and Mercy Ambulance.  The infant was transported to Western Baptist Hospital where the staff was able to regain a pulse.  He later was flown to Kosair Children’s Hospital, where he passed away.

  Officer Steve Thompson

Sgt. Wes Orazine

 Officer Steve Thompson and Sgt. Wes Orazine (nominated by Officer Matt Scheer)

Officers responded on January 27, 2013, to a report of a woman threatening to harm herself.  After the woman refused to come to the door, the officers entered through an unlocked front door and found the bedroom door was closed.  They attempted to open it, and realized the woman was behind the door.  Sgt. Wes Orazine and Officer Steve Thompson entered the bedroom and found the woman with a rope around her neck with the other end tied to a pipe in the ceiling.  Sgt. Orazine held the woman up while Officer Thompson cut the rope to free her.  For preventing the woman’s suicide, Sgt. Orazine and Officer Thompson are receiving Lifesaving Awards.  This is Sgt. Orazine’s second Lifesaving Award.

  Sgt. Steve Smith

Officer Brent Obermark

Officer Ryan Burrow

 Sgt. Steve Smith and Officers Brent Obermark and Ryan Burrow (nominated by Capt. Jason Merrick)

On July 12, 2012, Sgt. Steve Smith and Officers Brent Obermark and Ryan Burrow responded to a report of a vehicle crash on North 10 thStreet.  Upon their arrival, they found a car had hit a building, then backed about 400 yards across a street and through a garage door at Waggoner Moving and Storage.  The driver was unconscious and slumped over the steering wheel.  Sgt. Smith and Officer Obermark entered the car and attempted to stabilize the driver.  They pulled him from the vehicle and laid him on the garage floor.  As Sgt. Smith ran to his cruiser for a CPR mask, Officers Obermark and Burrow realized the man had quit breathing and began performing CPR.  The officers continued until Paducah firefighters arrived with an A.E.D. and took over.  The man later recovered from his injuries.

  Officer Beau Green

Nickolas Francescon

 Officers Beau Green and Nickolas Francescon (nominated by Sgt. George Johnson)
On February 9, 2013, Officers Beau Green and Nickolas Francescon responded to 1510 North 12 thStreet to a reported shooting.  The officers found a 3-year-old child in the living room floor, unresponsive with an apparent gunshot wound to his head.  Officers immediately began CPR and continued until Paducah firefighters and Mercy Ambulance personnel arrived.  The child regained a heartbeat and was transferred to Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville, where he later died.  For their efforts, officers Green and Francescon are being given a Lifesaving Award.  This is Officer Green’s third Lifesaving Award.

Chief's Award

  Det. Justin Crowell
 Det. Justin Crowell (nominated by Asst. Chief Stacey Grimes)

Beginning in early 2011, Det. Justin Crowell was tasked with the responsibility of creating from scratch a functional forensics lab to recover and document digital evidence.  He wrote a department policy, developed operational protocols and examination forms, and researched and requested appropriate software and equipment.  Paducah is one of only five satellite labs of the Louisville Regional Computer Forensics Lab (RCFL) in the Commonwealth.  Det. Crowell attended more than 200 hours of rigorous computer forensics training.  Dr. Deborah Keeling, chairwoman of the University of Louisville Justice Administration Department and National Advisory Board member for the RCFL in Louisville, said, “Det. Crowell’s focus, productivity, analytical quality, and data collection on this digital forensics project are outstanding.  The Paducah mini-lab is the best-realized vision of the project and the best practices model we describe to others.  This is due to Det. Crowell’s efforts.”  Since August 2011, Det. Crowell has performed 314 digital forensic examinations for the Paducah Police Department and surrounding agencies, ranging from homicides to drug offenses to sex offenses.

Sgt Kevin Neal
  Det. Chris Baxter
 Sgt. Kevin Neal and Det. Chris Baxter
In 2012, the police department’s training unit launched a three-day Patrol Rifleman’s Course, which is advanced training aimed at increasing the knowledge and skill of our officers with this weapon system.  As a new course, the curriculum had to be developed from the ground up.  Det. Chris Baxter and Sgt. Kevin Neal, both firearms instructors and subject matter experts, spent countless hours developing the curriculum, teaching the course, and ultimately making the course a huge success.  If not for the knowledge, work, and dedication of these two instructors, this training would not be a reality today.
  Gretchen Morgan
 Officer Gretchen Morgan (nominated by Capt. Don Hodgson)

Capt. Don Hodgson nominated Officer Gretchen Morgan for the Chief's Award based on her dedication, professionalism, and commitment to the department.  In the Spring of 2012, Officer Morgan contacted Capt. Hodgson about the Coltharp family and their desire to raise public awareness about distracted driving by sharing their family's story.  Hillary Coltharp was injured and her life forever changed after a crash due to driving distracted.  Officer Morgan facilitated a partnership between the Coltharp family and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to produce several public safety announcements.  Officer Morgan also worked with Capt. Hodgson to develop, promote, and deliver the "Don't Be In-TEXT-icated" program which has been presented to more than 800 young people.  Officer Morgan also developed a presentation called "The Dangers of Social Media" which was delivered with the assistance of Officer Kelly Drew to approximately 400 students.  Officer Morgan used information gained at her recent Internet Crimes Against Children training to develop the program.


Gary L. Reese Award

  Sgt. Brian Laird
Sgt. Brian Laird (nominated by Capt. Brian Krueger)

Sgt. Brian Laird received the Gary L. Reese Award in recognition of his continual performance and demonstrated leadership while exhibiting an exceptionally high degree of dedication and professionalism that shows a continuing commitment to the department and sets superior standards for fellow employees to follow.


2012 Employee of the Year

  Detective Anthony Copeland
 Detective Anthony Copeland (nominated by Sgt. Brian Laird)

Detective Anthony Copeland is a six-year member of the Paducah Police Department and currently serves in the General Investigations Unit and a member of the Bomb Squad.  In his letter of nomination, Sgt. Brian Laird said Detective Copeland has demonstrated professionalism, dedication, and maturity in the handling of his various tasks at the department.  Copeland worked more than 50 major cases in 2012 with an 85 percent clearance rate.  In the nomination Laird specifically highlights two cases Copeland handled: a June 12, 2012 homicide that resulted in an arrest within 24 hours of the crime and a robbery of a local pizza delivery driver.  "I feel Detective Copeland's 2012 performance best defines what supervisors strive to find in an employee," said Sgt. Laird.  "Although there are many deserving employees, I believe Det. Anthony Copeland rose to the top in 2012 and is worthy of the distinction of Employee of the Year."  Chief James Berry concurred, "Copeland is a self-driven employee who works hard.  He routinely demonstrates those attributes one looks for in an employee.  He is trustworthy and genuine and an informal leader within the department."  Copeland started his career in Baltimore, MD serving with the Baltimore County Police for a short time before coming to Paducah in 2006.  He is a second-generation police officer with his father also serving in Baltimore.  He has a Bachelor's Degree from Mid-Continent University.


Service Commendation

Officer Justin Hodges 
 Officer Justin Hodges (nominated by Sgt. Joe Hayes)

In September 2012, Sgt. Hayes began investigating several radiator and battery thefts from vehicles on Paducah’s south side.  He assigned the case to Officer Hodges, who reviewed hours of video of the suspect’s apartment and collaborated with other officers and detectives to seize evidence and obtain a confession.  The suspect was tied to 12 cases involving approximately ,500 in stolen property. 

Safe Driving Award

The Safe Driving Award was approved two years ago by the Department’s Awards Committee. It is designed to recognize officers who have demonstrated exceptional skill and judgment while driving a police vehicle by having no at-fault collisions, as determined by the Awards Committee, at five-year increments – five, 10, 15 and 20 years.  Capt. Mark Roberts researched department records and compiled a list of officers eligible for awards with presentations given at the awards ceremony.

Governor's Impaired Driving Enforcement Award 

  Officer Steve Thompson
 Officer Steve Thompson

Each year the Governor's Office, along with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet, gives out the Governor's Impaired Driving Enforcement Award to officers from agencies around the Commonwealth with the highest number of DUI arrests.  On December 5, 2012, in Louisville Paducah Police Officer Steve Thompson was recognized for having the highest number of arrests among similar-sized agencies in the state with a total of 82 DUI arrests for 2012.

Special Recognition to Hillary Coltharp

  Hillary Coltharp
 Special Recognition to Hillary Coltharp

In 2012, Hillary Coltharp and her family created a special partnership with the Paducah Police Department and the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to raise public awareness about distracted driving.  Hillary feels that she survived a horrible collision to help educate others about the dangers of driving while texting.  In 2007, Hillary had a successful career as a cosmetologist and was enjoying life with her son, Max.  However, like many people, she was oblivious to her own risk-taking behaviors such as multi-tasking and driving, driving too fast, and not wearing her seatbelt.  On September 1, 2007, she caused a distracted driving collision that changed her life.  She has undergone several surgeries and continues to recover today. Through her friendship with Officer Gretchen Morgan, they have worked together to share Hillary's story so that no other family would have to go through what she and her family have had to survive.  In 2012, Hillary worked with the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet to produce several public service announcements and worked with the Paducah Police Department to deliver the "Don't be InTEXTicated" program which consists of information about Hillary's life before and after the crash and distracted driving stats.