POINT PLEASANT — “Service above self” is a phrase known well to Rotarians and this week, local Rotarians applied it to law enforcement officers.
During the First Mason County Law Enforcement Appreciation Banquet held by the Point Pleasant Rotary, a packed house at the Point Pleasant Moose Lodge saw Cpt. Carl Peterson with the Mason County Sheriff’s Department be named “Officer of the Year.” Peterson is the first to receive this honor and the first name to be attached to a traveling plaque which will rest where the “Officer of the Year” serves. Peterson also received a personal trophy and $500.
The committee who chose Peterson took into account an application submitted by the sheriff’s department which included mention of a letter from a traumatized victim of a home invasion from April 2012. The home owner stated: “He made this experience easier to bear just by being patient, explaining things for us to do and not to mention, understand. We thanked him and his response was ‘I’m just doing my job’ but to us it went far beyond his job or protocols. The kindness he provided to us was reassuring and allowed us to feel safer knowing he was doing everything he could do to find out who had done this and ensuring our needs were being met.”
Over the years, Peterson moved up the ranks in the sheriff’s department from corporal to sergeant to lieutenant and finally captain. He also joined forces with his K-9 partner, Bono, and together they have been described as an impressive team. Peterson has also devoted much of his off duty time to the youth of Mason County by coaching both girls softball and boys baseball for many years. Peterson currently serves as an investigator for the sheriff’s department but also performs patrol duties which include taking reports, investigating accidents and answering radio calls.
According to the night’s emcee, Mason County Commission President Rick Handley, “Captain Peterson’s get-the-job-done attitude, accompanied by his soft spoken and polite mannerisms exemplifies his dedication to the citizens he serves.”
Peterson was joined by his wife Kathy to receive his award at the banquet.
The banquet’s keynote speaker was Cabell County Sheriff Tom McComas who has been with the Cabell County Sheriff’s Department since 1981, becoming the first officer in history to be promoted through every rank. He is also president of the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association.
McComas talked about all that those in law enforcement must face and how on the surface emotions may not be apparent, but underneath, officers are “humans just as you are.” He said law enforcement officers had to be tough because there are those in society who mistake kindness for weakness. He said those in law enforcement see and experience it all and have to go through a rigorous training to be sure they can sustain the pressures of the job - a job where their actions are often “under a microscope.”
McComas also said he was sure if anyone talked to any officer there at the banquet, those officers would say it was a pleasure to serve and also a pleasure to be recognized. He asked those at the banquet to thank officers for their service to the communities they care so much about.
“You will never know what they go through,” McComas said, adding they show up for a job where under the most difficult of circumstances, even those that cause fear, “they do it (their job) anyway.”
Also participating in the banquet were Sharon Stapleton who welcomed everyone, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the Four Way Test of Rotary - Stapleton also announced Peterson as the officer of the year. Larry Jones gave the invocation, Steve Littlepage spoke about Rotary. Also getting special recognition were Rotarians Charles Lanham and Jack Buxton. Madison Barker, the recently crowned Miss Law Enforcement for West Virginia was also in attendance. Also recognized were Delegates Jim Butler and Scott Cadle, Superintendent Suzanne Dickens, Prosecuting Attorney Craig Tatterson, Sheriff Greg Powers, Commissioners Miles Epling and Tracy Doolittle, Magistrate Cheryl Ross.
Of course also recognized were all the law enforcement personnel and their families in attendance which included personnel from the W.Va. State Police, Mason County Sheriff’s Department, Point Pleasant Police Department, Mason Police Department, New Haven Police Department, Hartford Police Department and W.Va. Department of Natural Resources.
As Handley put it, the recognition was “way past due.”
The Point Pleasant Rotary Club hopes the Law Enforcement Appreciation Banquet will continue for years to come. The banquet also provided free meals to all law enforcement personnel and their families, as well as personalized mugs.
The banquet received $1,000 grant donations from the Gordon C. and Mildred R. Jackson Foundation as well as the Robert and Louise Claflin Foundation.
Sponsors which helped turn the banquet into a reality were: Bob’s Market, City Ice and Fuel, Farmers Bank, Peoples Bank, Dr. Steve Rerych, Charles Lanham, City National Bank, BB and T, Garlow Insurance, Handley and Hunt, Holzer Health System, John Parrack of Nationwide, Ohio Valley Bank, Pleasant Valley Hospital, Larry Jones of Point Financial Services, Martin Consulting, Mid-Atlantic Construction, Smith Chevrolet Buick, Twin Oaks Federal Credit Union, Deal Funeral Home, John Sang Ford, Kayser Layne and Clark, Precisioned Components, Dr. Mashonna Austin, Homestead Realty, M and G Polymers, River Front Honda, Subway.