Photo Gallery | LCSD present awards to 6 deputies, 3 volunteers at banquet
The Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation on Thursday, February 28 presented awards to six Lexington County Sheriff’s Department employees and three persons who volunteer their time to work with the Sheriff’s Department. The awards were presented during the 2012 Deputy of the Year Awards Banquet that the foundation conducted on Thursday night.
Lexington County Sheriff James R. Metts thanked the Sheriff’s Foundation for its continuing support of the Sheriff’s Department. The foundation is a non-profit group that purchases equipment, training and other items for Sheriff’s Department deputies that can be difficult to acquire through the governmental budget process.
The Sheriff’s Foundation presented the following awards during the awards banquet:
DEPUTY OF THE YEAR: Sgt. Don Wieder
Wieder, 47, of Lexington, works as an instructor in the Training Division and conducts training for full-time, sworn deputies as well as reserve deputies, Metts said. On November 26, 1987, Metts appointed Wieder to serve as a deputy.
Wieder organizes the in-service training program that all full-time, sworn deputies must complete annually as well as an annual reserve law enforcement officer training class that the Sheriff’s Department conducts, Metts said. Wieder also serves as chairman of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers’ Association Training Committee and organizes training that the association conducts for law enforcement officers across South Carolina.
“Don is an excellent ambassador for the law enforcement profession,” Metts said. “Don is an outstanding defensive tactics instructor whose passion for teaching deputies how to protect themselves regardless of the situation is unequaled in my nearly 50 years in law enforcement.”
Wieder is certified as a TASER master instructor, PPCT instructor trainer and SABRE OC spray master instructor, Metts said. Wieder also is certified to teach deputies how to use firearms, tire-deflation devices and other law enforcement equipment and tools.
CORRECTIONAL OFFICER OF THE YEAR: Correctional Officer Rhonda Lewis
Lewis, 47, of Elgin, oversees efforts to recruit and retain correctional officers to work at the Lexington County Detention Center, Metts said. On May 8, 2000, Metts appointed Lewis to serve as a correctional officer.
In 2012, Lewis worked diligently to recruit and retain competent persons who are committed to work as professional correctional officers at the Detention Center, Metts said. Lewis interacted with more than 100 prospective correctional officers at job fairs and career fairs across South Carolina. The number of vacant correctional officer positions at the Detention Center has been reduced dramatically, and there also has been a 13 percent reduction in the number of correctional officers who leave the Detention Center to pursue other job opportunities.
“Rhonda has used her experience as a correctional officer and her communication skills to motivate persons to consider a unique and challenging career in the corrections field,” Metts said. “Rhonda shows prospective correctional officers that they can pursue a career that will inspire pride in Lexington County through professional law enforcement services.”
CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR: Lori Hayes
Hayes, 41, of Lexington serves as a senior administrative assistant in the North Region Patrol District, which is based near Irmo, Metts said. On June 22, 1992, Metts appointed Hayes to serve as a Sheriff’s Department employee.
Hayes conducts an annual audit for the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles concerning citations and warnings that deputies issue for traffic law violations and other offenses, Metts said. On average, Hayes must review and submit data for more than 16,000 citations and warnings that are issued by nearly 300 full-time, sworn deputies and reserve deputies. Hayes also submits information monthly to the Department of Motor Vehicles concerning the resolution of citations that were issued by deputies and adjudicated in magistrate’s court.
Hayes also compiles a bi-weekly report for the North Region Patrol District commander concerning index crimes that are reported to the Sheriff’s Department, Metts said. The commander uses that information to help determine where deputies should conduct directed patrols and what other tactics deputies should utilize to suppress crime and address quality of life issues.
“Lori has demonstrated a high level of proficiency in carrying out her administrative duties,” Metts said. “A good administrative assistant is essential to the success of any workplace unit, and Lori greatly contributes to the success of the North Region Patrol District.”
THE BRIAN S. MILLS FIRST-YEAR DEPUTY AWARD: Deputy Justin Ashley
Ashley, 25, of Lexington, works as a road patrol deputy in the West Region Patrol District, which is based near Gilbert, Metts said. On August 22, 2011, Metts appointed Ashley to serve as a deputy.
In January, Ashley received the South Carolina Sheriffs’ Association Medal of Valor in recognition of Ashley’s quick actions on July 1, 2012, when Ashley extinguished a stove fire that threatened to engulf a home on Keisler Road near Gilbert, Metts said. On November 15, 2012, Metts presented the Sheriff’s Department Medal of Valor Award to Ashley.
At about 9:32 p.m. on July 1, 2012, Ashley responded to a call concerning the activation of a burglar alarm at a home on Keisler Road near Gilbert, Metts said. Ashley could hear that a smoke detector also had been activated inside the residence. Ashley looked in a window at the residence and saw heavy smoke flowing into a hallway inside the home.
Ashley entered the home through the garage and found flames emanating from an object that was on top of a burner that had been left in the “on” position on the stove in the kitchen, Metts said. Ashley quickly moved through the house in order to make sure that no one was inside the residence. After determining that no one was in the residence, Ashley returned to the kitchen and extinguished the fire in the object that had been left on top of the burner on the stove.
“Lexington County Fire Service firefighters told me that the stove-top fire would have escalated into a fire that involved the whole structure of the residence if Justin had not acted quickly to extinguish the fire and eliminate the threat to the residence,” Metts said.
“Justin risked his own life when he entered a residence in order to extinguish a fire that was actively burning,” Metts said. “Justin was motivated to protect other persons and ensure that the fire did not burn down the whole house. His actions reflect his strong dedication to fulfilling our agency’s mission of providing professional law enforcement services that enhance the quality of life for all people in Lexington County.”
OUTSTANDING FIRST-LINE SUPERVISOR: Sgt. Bradley “Brad” Melton
Melton, 37, of Lexington, supervises property crimes investigators in the West Region Patrol District, Metts said. On August 4, 1997, Metts appointed Melton to serve as a deputy.
In 2012, Melton led investigators who are under his command to work to reduce the number of larcenies that were reported to the Sheriff’s Department by identifying seven repeat offenders and helping the 11th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office aggressively prosecute criminal cases involving those seven offenders, Metts said. Investigators also informed citizens at 12 neighborhood watch group meetings and community meetings how they can reduce opportunities for criminals to commit larcenies. In addition, investigators conducted undercover operations at four businesses that buy metal items for recycling in order to ensure that the businesses comply with South Carolina law and legally buy motor vehicles and other items for scrap metal.
Property crimes investigators in the West Region Patrol District successfully resolved through arrest 42 more cases in 2012 than they successfully resolved in 2011, Metts said.
In 2012, investigators also worked with road patrol deputies to arrest 90 persons for larceny-related incidents at a Wal-Mart Supercenter at 1780 South Lake Drive near Lexington, Metts said. Investigators also worked with the Lexington magistrate to schedule days of court specifically for larceny cases and to seek prison sentences for repeat offenders.
“Brad exhibited excellent leadership abilities and motivated the investigators under his command to achieve a high level of success,” Metts said. “Brad provided valuable insights to his investigators and constantly strived to provide excellent customer service to citizens in Lexington County.”
COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Resident Deputy Kevin Smith
Smith, 45, of Columbia, serves as the resident deputy in the Chapin community, Metts said. On September 6, 2005, Metts appointed Smith to serve as a deputy.
Smith works closely with a neighborhood watch group that comprises eight subdivisions in the Timberlake community on Lake Murray near Chapin, Metts said. Smith helped coordinate the annual Timberlake Youth Triathlon at Timberlake Country Club in which 80 children ages 5 to 12 participated in 2012. Proceeds from the 2012 triathlon and other contributions resulted in a donation of $17,000 to GoodWorks, a ministry that was created in 2002 to help persons who are in need of assistance in the Chapin, Little Mountain, Irmo and Prosperity communities.
“Neighborhoods in the Chapin community are coming together as a result of the assistance that Kevin provides to citizens,” Metts said. “Kevin attends community meetings, provides advice to community groups and wholeheartedly supports community events.”
RESERVE DEPUTY OF THE YEAR: Reserve Deputy Scott Zylstra
Metts appointed Zylstra, 49, of Columbia, to serve as a reserve deputy on April 15, 2009.
In 2012, Zylstra volunteered more than 300 hours of his time every four months to work with the Sheriff’s Department.
Zylstra regularly takes time off from his full-time job to go to court on criminal cases, and Zylstra also handles other assignments as requested by the Sheriff’s Department, Metts said.
“Scott routinely volunteers to help out whenever our agency requests help from reserve deputies,” Metts said. “Scott has earned the confidence of road patrol supervisors, and the supervisors very much appreciate it whenever Scott assists deputies assigned to road patrol duty.”
VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR: Richard “Rick” Freytag
Freytag, 63, of Lexington, volunteers his time to work with employees in the Information Technology Division, Metts said. In August 2011, Metts approved Freytag to work as a volunteer with the Sheriff’s Department.
In 2012, Freytag, who has more than 35 years of experience in the information technology field, configured more than 50 new computers that were provided to Sheriff’s Department employees, Metts said. Freytag installed standard software in the computers as well as specialized software that is needed to access the agency’s integrated records management system. Freytag also installed authorized software updates on computers.
“Rick saved our agency hundreds of man hours in 2012. Rick is very team-oriented and loves to jump in and help with any project that we are working on,” Metts said. “Rick always is on time and is very reliable.”
EXPLORER OF THE YEAR: Lt. William Bryan Allen
Allen, 19, of Lexington, has been a member of the Sheriff’s Department Explorers Post for about four years, Metts said. Allen helps conduct training for cadets in the Explorers Post.
In 2012, Allen completed more than 100 hours of law enforcement-related training and also volunteered his time to work more than 100 hours at community events. Allen graduated from Lexington High School in 2011 and currently attends Midlands Technical College.
“Bryan’s easy-going manner and determination to succeed have helped him lead new cadets to be successful in the Explorers Post,” Metts said.