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City recognizes four honored CPD officers

Posted: March 13, 2014 4:38 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2014 5:00 a.m.

Four Camden Police Department (CPD) officers received honors recently for their work in the field and with the community. They include two 2013 Officers of the Year, one named by the CPD itself, the other by the American Legion; the 2013 recipient of the CPD’s Wilson Clyburn award; and recognition of another officer for being among the nominees for the S.C. Law Enforcement Network’s (SCLEN) 2013 Officer of the Year award.

Tuesday, Camden City Council had the chance to meet three of the four officers, recognized by CPD Chief Joe Floyd for their achievements. First up: Capt. Mike Stone, recently named Camden American Legion Post No. 17’s 2013 Officer of the Year.

Floyd said he nominated Stone to Post 17 for the award based on several factors.

“One factor was that the other captain (Russ Morgan), who is my assistant chief, was in a serious car accident and was out of the office for four months,” Floyd said. “That was a four-month period of time where (Stone) carried out his duties as captain of operations. Understand … captain of operations encompasses all the patrol offices and investigators.”

Floyd said with Morgan out, Stone took on the other captain’s administrative duties.

“During that time frame, he was working long hours, worked as hard as anybody has in this agency over the years. He never complained, he was always there when needed,” he said.

The chief said Stone did a superior job in taking on different and additional tasks and was instrumental in planning a lot of other tasks he deemed very successful.

“In my position, he was critical for our organization not to slow down in providing services to the community through a time that we had lost a major command staff member for those months,” Floyd said.

Stone said he appreciates the award.

“It was an honor. I was surprised when I was told,” he said.

Next, Floyd praised his own 2013 Officer of the Year, Patrolman (Ptl.) John Patton, a relative newcomer to the department, having joined the force less than three years ago.

“We took him in uncertified, untrained (and) brought him into our organization, and put him through the police academy,” Floyd said. “Long story short, he has excelled in the period of time he’s been with us. He came in an untrained young man that hungered for knowledge, hungered for the development of skills and hungered to know about the right attitude to have to be a good police officer. In all three of those areas, he has excelled.”

Floyd said Patton’s superiors nominated Patton for the CPD Officer of the Year award, for which he made the final selection. He said that was a tough decision to make because he has a number of officers who perform at high levels.

“Part of it was not just his level of performance, day in and day out. The edge (Patton) had over his fellow officers was his desire -- his desire to learn, his desire to be better, which will serve him well throughout his law enforcement career wherever it may be, here in Camden or at some state agency or federal agency.

He has the capacity to reach whatever heights he chooses to in law enforcement and we’re fortunate to have him,” he said.

Floyd concluded his remarks about Patton saying he is an example to his fellow officers, including those who have been on the force longer. Patton said he was honored to be named Officer of the Year for a department that has so many dedicated officers.

“Everyone here is deserving of that award. It was very humbling and an honor to get that award,” he said.

The chief then moved on to Sgt. James Steele, recognizing him for being among the nominees for the SCLEN’s 5th Judicial Circuit 2013 Officer of the Year Award. Floyd explained that the SCLEN is a network of law enforcement agencies from both the state and local level. In the 5th Judicial Circuit, those agencies work to improve traffic safety in Kershaw and Richland counties, he said.

This year’s award winner was Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Kyle Hewitt, the first Kershaw County law enforcement officer to win the award. Floyd said Steele came very close to winning the award and received a plaque noting that achievement.

“James Steele stood out this year as he has in previous years, especially in the area of DUI enforcement,” Floyd said, concerning his efforts on Camden’s roads. “James has been our top DUI enforcement officer for the past 10 years, so that’s not changed even (from) prior to his being a road supervisor.”

He said even as a road supervisor now, leading a shift of patrol officers, Steele’s focus is still on holding people accountable for their bad driving habits.

“He made 23 DUIs last year, alone. We all, as a department, made 71, and 71 was the highest number of DUIs this department’s ever made,” Floyd said.

The chief noted that a Community Actions for a Safer Tomorrow, or CAST, grant made it possible for CPD officers to work overtime and focus on DUI enforcement.

“Sgt. Steele has been one of those officers. Part of that 23 DUIs came from his efforts of being out here on his days off. That’s a tribute to him and his commitment to not just the organization but the community that he polices in,” Floyd said, adding that Steele’s narrowly missing winning the SCLEN award was like watching Olympic lugers come in first and second only hundredths of a second apart. “Well, guess what? They’re both great and that’s where we (were) with the nominees. Everyone who receives that nomination is all in that same category.”

Steele said he appreciates being nominated for the award.

“I’m extremely passionate about DUI enforcement and that was what led to the nomination. It was an extreme honor, especially to be nominated among the people that work here. These guys are outstanding,” he said. “To be nominated above them really is a huge honor.”

Missing from Tuesday night’s recognition was Floyd’s 2013 Wilson Clyburn award winner, Ptl. Penny Lloyd. Floyd said Lloyd wanted to be there Tuesday night, but could not due to a medical appointment.

The chief explained that the Clyburn award is one he created after the former officer’s retirement. He said Clyburn served as an officer for more than 30 years and had an “uncanny ability” to connect and create positive contacts with the public. Floyd said the award goes to the officer he feels most represents Clyburn’s attitude for that year.

Up until recently, Lloyd served as the CPD desk officer, acting as the public’s first point of contact at the department.

“Her relationships with helping people and helping to solve problems got to the point where -- we joke about it … but we had people calling on the phone and it was almost like ‘I wanna talk to Penny. I don’t want to talk to this person, I want to talk to Penny,’” Floyd said. “It created such a positive for my organization to have someone like that people thought so much of that they felt like, ‘I wanna talk to her because she’ll help me solve whatever problem I have.’”

Lloyd said she did not expect the award.

“I was totally shocked. They had just sent me to the police academy to change my certification. That was a great honor and investment,” she said. 

Councilman Walter Long credited Floyd with creating a police force to be proud of.

“You’ve done an incredible job as chief and having people around you that you’ve hired,” Long said, adding that the awards each officer won is a “testament to what you’ve done and everybody around you. You really have gained the trust of our citizens. It’s proud for me as a councilman to be a part of that and … to not get calls from people saying that they’re irritated or upset, but actually get calls of compliments about our forces. So, thank you all and congratulations on your awards.”

Floyd said Patton and Lloyd’s awards were given out during the CPD’s annual awards banquet in February, which serves not only to honor its officers, but their spouses as well.

“For an entire year, (they) put up with being married to a police officer … and we always do it close to Valentine’s Day each year. So, it’s kind of a night out for our officers and their spouses,” he said.

Tuesday’s council meeting also included the reappointment and swearing-in of Michael Stegner and Rick Todd as Camden’s municipal judges. Todd is also chief magistrate for Kershaw County.

Council also on a 3-0 vote with councilwomen Alfred Mae Drakeford and Laurie Parks absent, approved second and final reading of a five-year update to the city’s 10-year Comprehensive Land Use Plan. Councilman Willard Polk suggested that council begin referring to the document on an annual basis as part of its strategic planning efforts. Such plans are required by state law to be rewritten every 10 years, with Camden’s next one due in 2017. Polk suggested the city begin work on that process a year early, in 2016.

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