Police officers and other first-responders, such as EMTs and firefighters, often do a number of good deeds, many of which are dismissed with little fanfare as simply part of the job. But when they go above and beyond, they deserve to be recognized.
On Feb. 22, police officers, first-responders and civilians were honored for their heroic actions at the Egg Harbor Township Police Department's 2013 Police and Community Service Awards ceremony at the Egg Harbor Township Community Center.
Patrolman Shawn Owen was among the officers honored for the event. A veteran of the U.S. Army and Coast Guard, which often give out awards, Owen said such ceremonies are encouraging for those honored.
"It's good for the guys," said Owen, who lives in the township's Bargaintown section. "It's good for morale, and it's good for the public to see what the officers do."
The heroic deeds of those honored were recounted at the two-hour ceremony, and recipients were presented with certificates of achievement. Recent retirees from the department also were honored for their service. Standout officers in the categories of physical fitness, marksmanship, good conduct and others stood as their names were read at the ceremony.
The ceremony was the first in a while after being forced on hiatus in 2010 due to budget cuts that threatened the layoffs of several members of the force.
Owen built up quite a backlog and was honored for his work in 19 incidents, among them busts of a known stalker caught in a routine motor vehicle stop as he left the home of his stalkee, and his work during and after Hurricanes Irene and Sandy and last summer's derecho storm.
Geoff Dorsey, who owns Dorsey Construction, was one of the civilian honorees. While he is a Somers Point resident, he was involved in a 2011 incident outside Christi's Bar and Restaurant off the Airport Circle in which he witnessed a man pull a gun and fire it into the air during an altercation. He reported the incident to the police, and although an initial search of the suspect's vehicle did not turn up any firearms, Dorsey insisted they continue to search. On a third search, they found the weapon tucked under the car's center console.
While he admits he was proud to accept his award, Dorsey insisted he was only doing what anyone in his position would have done.
"It wasn't like I did anything special, but it felt good to get the award, to be recognized for doing what's right," Dorsey said.
Honorees were selected based on recommendations from officers, who submit names of their peers and community members whose actions they believe merit recognition. The submissions are then reviewed by a committee against certain criteria.
Lt. Robert Gray, chairman of the awards committee and a 25-year member of the department, said the ceremony far predated his arrival on the force, but he's unsure when it was started.
The recent hiatus was the first, as far as he knows, for what had been an annual ceremony. Gray hopes the event gets back to the yearly schedule, because it's a big morale booster for township policeman and citizens. He joked that poring through four years of submissions was hard work for the committee.
"It was quite a feat getting all this stuff together," Gray said. "Hopefully, we do it yearly, because it's a lot to do - four year's worth for one night."
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