Rock Hill Police Chief John Gregory firmly believes all of his department should always recognize and spend some time celebrating their peers’ accomplishments.
Police and city officials did just that as they gathered in city council chambers Monday afternoon to applaud the Civilian and Officer of the Year awards during the department’s annual Promotion and Awards ceremony.
The winners of the two awards are selected by their peers. The top finalists in the categories are recognized at the ceremony with the winner then being announced.
“It’s the good work the employees recognize,” Gregory said.
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Nominated for Civilian of the Year were:
• Tan Barber, who has worked in the community services division since 2002 and helps organize the juvenile programs.
• Jan Futrelle, a former winner who supports the patrol captain.
• Brenda Laffoon, who keeps track of all files from internal affairs to budgets.
• Donna O’Neal, secretary to the chief.
Futrelle was the winner. Gregory said she was the “backbone of this agency” and someone who makes the department look good and is efficient.
The finalists for Officer of the Year were:
• Sarah Blair
• Sam Buchanan
• Sammy Figueroa
• Ray Hamilton
• Adam Nemtuda
Field training officer Sam Buchanan was the winner. Gregory cited his good attitude and how it affects everyone around him.
“I’d like to thank everyone, the chief, the whole department,” Buchanan said. “I want to thank my family for coming out and supporting me.”
Also recognized were Sgt. Michael Johnson, who was promoted to sergeant in December, and dispatchers Scottie Marsengill and Lisa West, who were promoted to dispatch commanders.
Three people were honored with the chief’s awards, for those “who have distinguished themselves over many years, who do a fine job and who make us better because of their presence,” Gregory said.
Lt. Michael Belk was honored as “one of people I depend on when we talk about strategy,” Gregory said.
Lt. Rod Stinston was honored for his role in the community services division, and his participation at the Worthy Boys and Girls Camp.
The final winner was Donna O’Neal, her second time at the podium.
“I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for Donna,” Gregory said, pointing to her wisdom and maturity.
O’Neal, who is retiring later this year, said it will be hard to leave everyone.
“How can I leave you all?” she said. “You’re like my family. ...I love everybody.”