The Pell City Police Department held a Memorial and Awards Ceremony on Tuesday to honor officers that have died in the line of duty and award those who have demonstrated exemplary service in the field.
“An award to me is that none of our officers die so they can go home to their families,” Pell City Police Chief Paul Irwin told the crowd gathered for the service.
In 2018, 144 officers nationwide were lost in the line of duty. So far this year, 44 have been killed. The cause is primarily firearms.
After recognizing fallen officers, including PCPD officers Lt. Richard Woods and Officer Greg Surles, Chief Irwin presented a Law Enforcement Memorial Award for Unrecognized Courage, Valor and Heroism to Birmingham Police Officer Powers Lane.
“We want to reward officers that may go unnoticed,” Irwin stated. “We see them do heroic things in the line of duty…we want to recognize the officers that survive.”
Lane’s former partner, Officer Michael Anthony Phillips, who is now with Pell City, also received the Combat Cross Award for his service.
“Its been 9 years since my first officer involved shooting. I’ve survived several other officer involved shootings, and attempts on my life,” Phillips posted on his Facebook page. “I’ve literally pried guns out of peoples hands who had made it their mission to kill me. I was never recognized for any of it until today. Today I received my Combat Cross. Thank you [Chief] Paul A Irwin Jr! You have no idea how much this means to me! It’s an absolute honor to work here.”
Other Pell City Police Officers received awards for Service, for five, 10, 20, and 25 years of service with PCPD. Sergeant Sam McGuffie has 25 years of service; Lieutenant Vince Warrington has 20 years; Sergeant Shenandoah McInnish, Detective Jesse Burgos, Investigator Chris Norris, School Resource Officer William “Mac” Pruitt, and Officer Thomas McDonald all have 10 years of service; Sergeant Philip Row and Officer Kevin Perry both have five years of service.
Officers and Supervisors of the Patrol Division selected Officer Justin Wilson as the 2018 Officer of the Year. Wilson has been with the PCPD for one year.
“Justin Wilson assists other officers and is always willing to help others,” said Chief Irwin.
Detective Chris Norris was selected 2018 Detective of the Year by Officers, Detectives and Supervisors of the Investigations Division.
Sergeant Eddie Branham was awarded the PCPD Combat Cross Medal.
Seven officers received the Officer of Excellence Award for 2018. These officers completed the physical agility course, had no accidents, and scored over 90 on firearms training. These officers are Captain Joshua Herren, Sergeant Shenandoah McInnish, Officer Jessie Burgos, Officer Justin Cooper, Officer John Massey, Officer Michael Phillips, and Officer Joseph White.
“Without the training that we do and taking care of themselves, we wouldn’t be able to do this job,” said Chief Irwin.
The Pell City Police Department has 38 full time officers, seven part-time officers and “seek to continuously develop officers who will be leaders, role models, and servants to community they serve.”