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Clayton Police Recognize Department Excellence

05/23/2019

The Clayton Police Department gathered to celebrate the work and accomplishments of 2018, promote two Sergeants and a detective, acknowledge community partners, and recognize numerous employees for exceptional performance.Click below to watch the entire ceremony held May 2019.

SWEARING IN OF NEW OFFICERS

The ceremony began with the swearing in of two of the department's newest and furriest officers, Eli and Raven. Officers Isaiah Ruffin and Tyler McNeill brought their obedient and highly-trained partners to the front of the Town Council Chambers to be officially sworn in as Clayton Police Department “Officers.” 

"Police K9s are an essential element of law enforcement," said Clayton Police Chief Blair Myhand, who was interrupted numerous times by the excited barks of K9 Eli. "These animals are not only a tool to help us do our jobs more effectively, but they become as much a part of our family as any two-legged officer. Working dogs help officers find narcotics, explosives, and other dangerous substances. They are vital in locating persons whether it be criminals attempting to avoid capture or missing persons. These animals' sense of smell is vastly superior to human scent capabilities. They can get into places that human officers cannot and they work for free (something Council likes to hear). In fact, if they had opposing thumbs, they might put a few of us out of work: myself included. And while Eli and Raven have been working for several months, we want to formally bring them into the fold tonight and make them official officers by having their handlers affix their badges to their collars.

Watch this special video about the training and certification that led up to bringing these two officers on the force! 

K9 Eli

Eli is a purebred male Belgian Malinois born in Poland on October 5, 2016. He joined us last June and is teamed with Officer Ruffin. Both are assigned to the Patrol Division. Eli is a certified police working dog trained in tracking, narcotic detection, and apprehension. He enjoys meeting new human friends and playing with his favorite toy, his yellow ball.

K9 Raven

Raven is the department's first female dog. She is a German Shepard. She was born in Holland on December 26, 2016. She joined the police department in March 2018 and is also assigned to the Patrol Division with Officer McNeill. Raven is the department’s first female police dog. She is a certified police working dog trained in tracking, narcotic detection, and apprehension. She enjoys working hard, giving back to the community, and taking a “bite out of crime.”


CIVILIAN SERVICE

American Pride Xpress Carwash
American Pride is a great partner to the department. In Early 2018, business owners, Courtney and Paul Bell offered to give, at no cost, free unlimited car washes for every marked car in our fleet. Since then, they have continued to accept new marked cars into the program. This is an exceptionally generous offer and something they are not expected to do. 

Their generosity helps maintain a professional appearance for the portion of our fleet that gets the most recognition. Many of us appreciate them so much for doing this, that we pay for monthly memberships on our unmarked vehicles. 

I can think of few businesses who so willingly give so much out of the kindness of their hearts. American Pride has a great name and a tremendous community spirit. For that reason, they are awarded the civilian service award.


La Cocina
As a business, La Cocina is an exceptional partner in the Clayton Community. Their business model lends itself well to supporting community efforts throughout the town. La Cocina has many locations in the region, but their Clayton store is tremendous in its approach to helping others.

In 2018, La Cocina donated money to help the police department fund Christmas with a Cop. They even directly funded our first-ever K9 cards that Canine officers give out to kids in the community.

They are very welcoming to officer when they eat there, their service is first rate and they are responsive to officer’s hectic schedules when eating on duty. They are involved with the Chamber of Commerce and contribute greatly to the town. Many restaurants operate well and many people like eating there, but it is the exception where a restaurant gives back so much to the community. For these reasons, La Cocina is deserving of the Civilian Service Award. 

Carlos Batista and VCB Executive Limo Service
CJ is a local business owner who has volunteered his services and time to the Clayton Police Department and the community. On May 25, 2018, CJ brought and operated his limo golf cart and assisted the department during its annual Special Olympics torch run. In October, he brought a large grill and cooked a considerable amount of food to feed the community during the annual Riverwood Night Out event.

On December 1, 2018, he again participated in the department’s first-ever Christmas with a Cop. He provided a party bus for the children to ride in to and from Walmart. He assisted us with gathering the purchased merchandise and he paid employees to come in to help at his own expense.

And while not in the Town of Clayton, just as another example of his community service, CJ spent several weekends at the NC coast cooking food and feeding people who lost their homes to Hurricane Florence.

CJ, you are a true community partner and very much deserving of the Civilian Service Award. 

UNIT COMMENDATIONS

The awards ceremony also took time to recognize individual and team accomplishments relative to an officer’s performance of his/her duties. 

“While only a few are being recognized tonight, there is a great deal of outstanding work being done every day by the men and women of the Clayton Police Department,” said Chief Myhand. 

SQUAD A
Lt. Russell Flint, Sgt. Brian Temple, Officers Scott Holzshu, Erick Martinez (not pictured) and Johnathan Guider 

On August 5, 2018, at approximately 11:54 p.m., the members of this unit demonstrated highly credible public service during a single incident and performed their duties in an exemplary manner.

Officer Martinez and Guider were outside the police department when they heard a loud noise come from the downtown area along Main Street near Main Street Jewelers. This loud noise was followed by a loud and audible alarm. The officers responded to the area and began a business-by-business foot patrol of downtown.

The initially saw no signs of forced-entry into any businesses and lesser officers might “call it a night.” They stayed on foot in the area and soon heard glass breaking further down Main Street and then spotted a man running from the sound of breaking glass. The officers immediately gave chase while requesting other units to assist.

Sgt. Temple saw a person matching the suspect’s description running along the railroad tracks. Officer Holzshu set in position and diverted the suspect from escaping. Officer Guider heard a noise and looked to see the suspect scaling a fence behind a local business. Officer Guider illuminated the suspect and announced his presence. The suspect immediately let go of the fence and ran behind the business. Lt. Flint, Sgt. Temple, and Ofc. Holzshu soon found the suspect behind another downtown business and took him into custody without incident. 

“A career criminal and drug addict was caught in the act by observant officers committed to providing exceptional service to the business community,” said Capt. Jon Gerrell. 

In all, the suspect broke into two businesses and a vehicle in downtown Clayton. With his arrest, Detectives from Benson PD, Johnston County Sheriff’s Office, and the Dunn PD closed several unsolved criminal cases. 

“Their teamwork and coordinated efforts were instrumental in capturing a burglary suspect who was wanted on several outstanding warrants in Georgia and Florida as well,” said Capt. Gerrell.” The “A” Squad is a credit to the department, the Town of Clayton and the Clayton community. Very well-done guys!” 

MERITORIOUS SERVICE

The meritorious service awards are given to individuals who demonstrate exceptional service to the department, the Town of Clayton, and/or to the community over a sustained period. Awardees have generally proven themselves apart from their peers by constantly going above and beyond their normal duties and providing substantial cost savings to the town, outstanding service, or exceptional performance under stress.

Sergeant Keith Garner

Since being moved into a training role, Sgt. Garner has managed to schedule all in-house training as well as outsourcing other training to fit department needs. He developed a weapon-mounted light lesson plan and insured every sworn officer was properly trained. He oversees all weapon inspections and maintains accurate accountability.

He supervises all department general and specialized instructors to ensure department personnel are adequately trained. He increased department range time and has focused his energy at teaching good weapon handling skills over marksmanship.
Sgt. Garner frequently coordinates with Johnston County Community College, Wilson Tech, Wake Tech, and the NCJA to facilitate the department’s training needs. He developed the department’s new Field Training program and manual. He oversees new employee orientation to ensure new employees are ready to train with they hit the streets. He is the first person to set the example for new employees (which is scary) and always makes himself available to cover their needs.

He also rides the department motorcycle by participating in several special events including National Night Out, Touch-a-Truck with Parks & Recreation, and others. He partners with other local police departments teach motorcycle safety to civilians as part of the BikeSafeNC program.

“In 2018, Sgt. Garner has contributed greatly to enhancing the overall effectiveness of the department by improving our operations, enhancing training, and enforcing the standards,” said Capt. Ritchie Herring. “He has distinguished himself through his dedication to the department and its mission and he is well deserving of the Meritorious Service medal for his work in 2018.”

Meredith Mumford

Meredith Mumford, the department’s administrative assistant and station receptionist, is very much deserving of recognition for exceptional service this past year. She serves this community and this organization, not only in her role on the front line of our law enforcement center, but she works in other capacities throughout town.

She does not shy away from any challenge. She welcomes the opportunity to learn new skills and apply herself to bettering any process. When asked, she jumped at the opportunity to be part of the Town’s new wellness program. Not only did she become part of the team, but she became its leader and was instrumental in redeveloping the Town’s Wellness program. She worked with other town employees gathering data and creating the program we enjoy today. Without a doubt, she is responsible for improving the overall wellness of all town employees. This is a major accomplishment and far above what is expected of someone in her role as administrative support specialist.

Meredith played a tremendous role in the department’s attempt this year at having a successful Christmas with a Cop program. She coordinated volunteers, helped vet potential participants, secured food donations, put together crafts for the kids, and facilitated the wrapping and delivery of the gifts. This year’s program would not have been as successful if not for Meredith’s commitment to service.

“Meredith is the pleasant face of the department,” said Capt. Herring. “He is the first person people see when they come to the Police Department and the first person people talk to when they call. She is always pleasant and constantly professional. She never loses her temper with anyone; citizen or employee. She may be shy and nervous about speaking in front of people, but she never lets that fear to get in the way of accomplishing her responsibilities. I can think of few who are more deserving of recognition than Meredith for her sustained and exceptional service throughout the year.”   

Andy Jernigan

Sergeant Andy Jernigan served this agency honorably for 15 years from January 2003 until his retirement in December 2018. During that time, he served in many different capacities with distinction.

Most recently, he served as the training Sergeant. In this role, he expertly managed all in-service training for the department. He was the lead instructor for Johnston County’s Crisis Intervention Team program. He participated in many classes at both JCC and WakeTech. 

He kept meticulous and accurate records and passed every audit with flying colors. Sgt. Jernigan enabled future people in the Training Sergeant role to function effectively and efficiently because of the procedures he established and set into place.

Sgt. Jernigan’s retirement came long before he expected it to. His decision to retire this past year was not a decision he took lightly.

“There are times in a Chief’s tenure where a person leaving is an opportunity to trade up… your departure is not one of those times,” said Chief Myhand to Sgt. Jernigan. “You were a tough person to replace and, in a minute, we will officially promote that person. You left this department in a good place and we can take your work you did and make the Clayton Police Department better. Thank you, Andy ,for all you have done for Clayton and this community’s law enforcement.”

Sgt. Jernigan was officially given his badge and duty weapon. The Town of Clayton Council unanimously agreed to honor his service with these items.  

PROMOTIONS

The Police Investigator is a position as old as law enforcement itself. These specially trained individuals ensure that no one commits a crime without being held accountable for it. 

Erick Martinez

Born in California, Martinez moved to Clayton with his family when he was 9 years old.  He graduated from Clayton High School in 2012. In 2015, he attended Johnston Community College and graduated from the Basic Law Enforcement training program. Shortly after he graduated, he joined the ranks of the Clayton Police Department. Erick has been a very productive member of the patrol division while serving on several patrol squads. In 2016 he was nominated and selected by the department as the Clayton Police Officer of the Year. In 2017 he was also awarded a Lifesaving Award by the department for his willingness in wanting to help assist others.  

SERGEANT PROMOTION

The position of Sergeant is a critical position in any organization. The Sergeant is often the first level of leadership where the preverbal “rubber” meets the road. These folks often have the toughest time transitioning from officers and peers into supervisors. New Sergeants sometimes struggle with balancing the need to support their troops and selling what the command staff comes up with. It is a challenging yet rewarding position and maybe even the best position in any police department. Regardless of the difficulties, these two new Sergeants are doing an exceptional job in their new roles and we are lucky to have them.

Owen Phillips

Ofc. Phillips is a ten-year veteran of the Clayton Police Department, with over 13 total years in law enforcement.  He graduated from Clayton High School and joined the United States Army, were he served our country for 5 years.  

After getting out of the Army, he completed Basic Law Enforcement Training at Johnston Community College in 2006 and began his career with the Smithfield Police Department before coming to Clayton.  

Owen has his Intermediate and Advanced Law enforcement Certificates as well as numerous other state and local certifications. He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in Emergency and Disaster Management from Western Carolina University, and this month completed his master’s degree in Human Resources from Western Carolina University.

For the past 7 years he has been a member of the Administrative Services Division (ASD) serving as the Community Police Officer for the department for the past 5 years, and a traffic officer for 2 years before that.  He is a certified Field Training Officer, Instructor, CIT & VCIT Trained.  He has been recognized by his peers as the Clayton Police Department Officer of the Year and the Town of Clayton Employee of the Year.

“He has also started several community programs while serving as the COP Officer,” said Capt. Jon Gerrell. “Most notably has been his Youth Police Academy program where he has help bridge the communication line between the youth in this community and department. Congratulations on your promotion to Sergeant.”  

Jeff Young

Jeff is a four-year veteran of the Clayton Police Department, with 8 total years in law enforcement.  He graduated from Sanderson High School in Raleigh.  He then obtained his Associates Degree in Criminal Justice and Bachelor of Science Degree for Business Administration from Miller-Motte College.

He completed BLET at Johnston Community College in 2010 and began his career with the Benson Police Department, were he served in Patrol and later became their Community Policing Officer, before joining the ranks of Clayton PD in 2014.  He currently holds his Intermediate Law Enforcement certificate and numerous other state and local certifications.

He has been a proud member of the Patrol Services Division (PSD) most recently serving as the Field Training Officer on C-Squad.  He currently holds certifications as an Advanced Field Training Officer, General Instructor, the departments Taser Instructor and is CIT Trained.  In 2012 he graduated from Leadership of Johnson County.

Jeff has been happily married for 11 years and has 2 daughters, who led us in the Pledge of Allegiance this evening.
 

OFFICER OF THE YEAR 

There are 50 employees of the Clayton Police Department and to be named Officer of the Year is quite an accomplishment. Every year, a committee looks at the meritorious recommendations that are submitted and has the difficult decision to select just one. This year’s Officer of the Year is Sgt. Keith Garner.

“I get to work with Keith every day and his office is just a few doors down from mine, so he catches a lot of the things that come out of my office,” said Chief Myhand. “I am able to, and in fact I did it today, walk up and said that I need something done and I can walk away knowing it will be. Keith was recognized by his peers as someone they can count and rely on to get things done. I can always trust him to complete any task on time and with distinction.”

“His effort with firearms training been remarkable. Many people ask why we spend so much time on firearms training and while it’s not our focus, when you talk to someone like Keith, he makes clear the importance: when you need to have that firearms skill, there is no prep time – it’s now. There are incidents all over the country with officers who have survived because they have relied on that training. Keith takes this very personally and takes very seriously that if that situation arises, our officers will have the best chance to be successful in those instances. Keith is a forward thinker and works very hard to stay abreast of emerging trends to improve officer safety and department operations. He sets an example that people strive to achieve.”

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