Tyler Police Department recognizes outstanding service among its ranks during ceremony

VIDEO: Tyler Police Chief Paul Toler speaks about awards ceremony

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - 2019 was an eventful year for the Tyler Police Department, and on Tuesday night, they had an awards ceremony to honor those who went above and beyond.

Certificate of Civic Achievement

This supervisor has continually led not only his unit but the entire PD in reaching out to individuals in our community. As the supervisor for the CRO unit, Sgt. Matthew Leigeber has not only encouraged more social outreach for our community but also brought favorable attention to the Tyler Police Department.

In response to the 2019 viral trend called the #gitupchallenge, Matt worked with the City’s communications department to develop a video featuring his dancing moves and promised to release it after a fundraiser for CASA. They raised over $2,000 for CASA and the video has been viewed over 1.2 million times, making it one of our most watched videos on Facebook.

Through the use of social media outlets and utilizing his unique talents, Sgt. Leigeber has led the way in the promotion of the Tyler Police Department’s desire to put a human, compassionate face behind the uniform.

We salute the actions of Sergeant Matt Leigeber and award him this Certificate of Civic Achievement.

Certificate of Civic Achievement

This individual has been a big supporter of the Tyler ISD Criminal Justice Student Association and SkillsUSA Competition for many years.

Officer James McCraw has formed a community partnership between the Tyler ISD Criminal Justice program and Tyler Police Department. He has been a big proponent of the program through his career and has received numerous letters from the Tyler ISD school board, faculty and administration and their students for his contributions to the success of their programs.

This officer has donated his time and funds as well as facilitated other donations to the program over the years so students involved could compete in district, state and national competitions.

In 2019, when funds were short, he organized a campaign to send the individuals with the Criminal Justice Student Association (CJSA) to the SkillsUSA State competition. Officer McCraw worked hard by getting with several local Wal Marts to donate a total of $6,000 to TISD earmarked for the CJSA program to attend their competition.

We are grateful for Officer James McCraw and his heart to help these young adults pursue their goals even through the obstacles. The Tyler Police Departments proudly presents Officer James McCraw this Certificate of Civic Achievement.

Certificate of Civic Achievement

Those who pursue law enforcement careers often run into people facing hard times in their lives. There have been countless stories of men and women in blue using their personal funds to help out individuals with their immediate needs.

In July 2019, Tyler patrol officers encountered a young woman a local hotel who was in a very bad situation due to her disability and no local support. Officer Kerri Long immediately reached out to multiple organizations and managed to find a location to help out but it would be a couple of days before they could arrange transportation for this lady. She had no financial means to pay for two additional nights at the motel so Officer Long paid for her room in order to “buy some time” for the lady as arrangements were made.

Officer Long ensured that transportation went through and the lady was moved to Longview. Supervisors later reached out to check on this individual and was told that she is now working towards an action plan to increase her independence. The organization’s representatives indicated that she is doing very well and in a much better positon to sustain herself and that Officer Long’s actions greatly assisted her in getting the help she desperately needed.

Officer Long’s actions to help this person in need with no expectations of any recognition or reward clearly demonstrates love and compassion. This is a practical example of going above and beyond what is expected of our officers and the Tyler PD enthusiastically presents Officer Kerri Long with a Certificate of Civic Achievement.

Certificate of Civic Achievement

This officer thrives on arranging events for community outreach and is a bundle of fun in the community. There are many opportunities for events throughout the year but Christmas is a special time. Blue Santa is a nationwide activity where Law Enforcement officers pair up with children and families in need and take them shopping. These kids come from difficult situations and the goal of the event is to not only give them a brighter Christmas but created an opportunity to spend time with officers. Many of these children do not have positive perceptions of Police officers and it is the hope of all involved with Blue Santa that they might have a profound impact in their lives and create a positive memory through spending time shopping together. In 2019, officers started a new initiative similar to this event called “Silver Santa” the goal of which was to engage some of the elderly seniors in Tyler.

Officer Chuck Boyce also identified families suffering various hardships and though a partnership with Academy Sports had a “Shop-with-a-Cop” event. Ten families were selected to receive a $500 gift card to shop in the store to help the families have a truly incredible Christmas.

What Officer Chuck Boyce started 5 years ago with 15-20 kids has now grown to reach more than 280 children and 150 senior Citizens annually. Although these events are not officially sponsored by the Tyler Police Department, they greatly enhance our department’s image in the community and it is Tyler Police Officers like Chuck Boyce whose face the community sees.

We are thrilled to support Officer Chuck Boyce’s community efforts and we present him this Certificate of Civic Achievement.

Certificate of Civic Achievement

This group of employees began with a general idea on crime prevention awareness for our community and it has developed into internationally recognized video clips.

Detective Wayne Thomas took an idea to Sgt. Adam Tarrant and they met with City of Tyler’s Communications Team. During the discussions, an idea was brought forth to have a “friendly thief” be the center point in the videos. It was decided to begin with an auto burglary video as the first in a series of 8 videos with varying emphasis.

Timeless hours went into planning, coordinating and producing these videos with great success. The citizens have benefited from the awareness videos and thousands of people have viewed the videos online. The Tyler Police Facebook page has increased significantly in “likes” and views and new members on the page. These videos have received a Gold MarCom award which honors excellence in marketing and communication.

We applaud the creative efforts of our Public Information Officer Andy Erbaugh, Detectives Wayne Thomas and April Molina, Sergeant Adam Tarrant, Jenny Wells and Bob Mauldin and present them these Certificates of Civic Achievement.

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

Officers responded to a Critical Missing Adult in September 2019. An elderly lady was to be transported for mental health care but when her caregiver arrived, the lady was not located. The missing woman was a hoarder and officers were unable to find her in the full home. Officers and detectives contacted family, friends and medical professionals to try to locate her but these efforts were unsuccessful.

Detective Ken Gardner was assigned this case and returned to her home to see if she had returned. Due to the critical time factor and the overall concern of the lady’s wellbeing a second search of her residence was undertaken. The lady was located hiding in her room, paranoid about people trying to get her. She was dehydrated and with the heat of the day if Det. Gardner had not returned to the home, there could have been serious health consequences.

For his determination to locate this woman and dedication to his case, the Tyler Police Department is awarding Detective Ken Gardner a Certificate of Merit.

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

Officers are constantly learning and practicing skills in order to be the best version of themselves day in and day out.

This officer has always been the go to person in reference to firearms and shooting. In the last year, it was decided to reorganize positions so there was a specific person in charge of the range so officers could use that location to its full capability. Sergeant Mike Saxion was the best person for the job. Since his assignment, he has done a tremendous amount of research and work to implement new safety procedures and improvements to the range location. Sgt. Saxion has also designed new procedures for the annual firearms qualification. He has also done significant investigation on the department purchasing firearms for sworn officers.

Sgt. Saxion has used his skills and knowledge to implement a reoccurring range day which allows officers to come and practice with their weapons and receive training on any issues they may be having.

We thank Sgt. Saxion for his dedication to the profession and preparing officers for the job. The Tyler Police Department presents a Certificate of Merit to Sergeant Mike Saxion.

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

This civilian employee is always working to be sure the Police Department is represented at its best. She takes time out of her day to help with many of the events the Police Department organizes even if it means coming in on a day off.

In 2019, Donna Tarrant put together two thousand and seventy four case packets for the department. The case packets represent each officer involved in the case. She makes it a mission to be sure each officer’s packet is professional and completed before being turned in to the District Attorney’s office for a review of the case. She is always open to assisting anyone with questions and is always at her best. She is currently working with the DA’s office and Smith County to prepare a new system to streamline the process of getting our cases to them which will help us go paperless.

The Tyler Police Department is grateful for the detailed work of Donna Tarrant which continually makes us look good and we issue her a Certificate of Merit.

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

Change can be difficult to embrace in a business setting yet fighting transitions makes it even harder to accomplish goals and improve the organization. Continually doing things “because we’ve always done it this way” doesn’t allow room for growth and progress.

Data Management embraced the progressive vision of their supervisor this year by rearranging work areas to organize unused space and adjust layouts and storage in better ways which would assist all employees in the future.

Another change involved updates from laws on open records. Through clarification from the city’s legal department, many procedures had to be changed for compliance and every employee rose to the challenge and supported each other through the transition.

An entire date management position had to be moved to the Faulkner station so job duties were rearranged to better assist the community who come to both our locations. This took the effort and assistance of everyone in the unit to make it happen and there were many days working in the chaos until it was achieved.

We recognize the Data Management Unit with a Certificate of Merit for their efforts to assist the community and help the PD grow into the 21st century.

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

This officer has done an exceptional job this past year by staying busy answering calls for service and enforcing traffic laws. During 2019 this officer led the number of DWI arrests with 53. In one particular 24 hour span, he made two separate DWI shifts on one shift and then made a third DWI arrest prior to midnight at the start of his next shift.

Officer Blake Kelley has gone above and beyond what is expected of him and is an example of a truly motivated, high performing police officer. He has been with Tyler PD for three years and is a highly dedicated employee. He seeks out advanced training opportunities to better himself and the department. In the last year, he has completed at least 229 hours of training including a 60 hour Basic SWAT class and Advanced Roadside Impaired Driving Enforcement school. His interest and focus on DWI enforcement has led him to being asked to help teach the academy on this subject. He is always eager to assist other officers and supervisors. He is friendly, approachable and always maintains a positive, helpful attitude with both coworkers and citizens.

The Tyler Police Department is proud of his actions going above and beyond and proudly present a Certificate of Merit to Officer Blake Kelley.

Life Saving Award

On September 27, 2019, the Community Response Unit was working the CASA for kids East Texas Fundraiser when a hysterical man ran into the building pleading for help. The man advised that a female was not breathing at the restaurant next door. Sgt. Matthew Leigeber ran to the location where he found two individuals unsuccessfully conducting CPR on an unconscious Hispanic female. Sgt. Leigeber conducted a rapid assessment of the female. The female was indeed not breathing and her pulse was very weak. Matt recognized that the female was having a seizure and used his Emergency Medical Response training to clear her blocked airway. After several seconds, Sgt. Leigeber began to see signs of improvement. Matt stayed with the victim until EMS arrived and transported her to the hospital. Since then the Hispanic Advisory Committee and Sgt. Leigeber have taken many actions to assist this lady and her family through this health challenge.

The Tyler Police Department is privileged to give the Life Saving Award to Sergeant Matt Leigeber.

Life Saving Award

Officers responded to a call for service at Trinity Mother Francis hospital. The caller advised that her boyfriend was in need of immediate medical attention but was refusing to seek medical care. The caller later told officers of her boyfriend’s drug usage and how his health had declined significantly. Officers broadcast a description of the male so officers could begin searching. Officer Jonathan Holland spoke with the man on the phone and noted that he sounded winded and in pain. Officers located the male approximately two blocks away. Officers then arrived at the location and made continuous efforts to keep the male responsive. Officers Simington and Holland arrived at the male’s location moments later. Officer Holland began to maintain the male’s airway while officers assured that EMS was responding code 3. The male’s breathing varied but appeared mostly very slow and labored. Once it was determined that EMS was not as close as previously believed and with his health sliding, officers utilized the buddy carry and load techniques to get the man into the rear seat of a patrol car and transported him to the emergency room. Once at the hospital, officers loaded him onto hospital equipment and get him inside the hospital to be attended by ER staff who were able to assist him.

The Tyler Police Department recognizes Officers Rodney Simington and Jon Holland and present a Life Saving Award in response of their actions.

Life Saving Award

October 13th, 2019 officers were dispatched to a possible overdose victim. Upon arrival, the first officer contacted the victim’s sister who brought the officers to the victim. The male was unresponsive, did not appear to be breathing and his skin was turning blue. The woman admitted he was known to abuse heroin so the officer knew he needed to use his Narcan injector.

Officer David Alexander administered the dosage as directed. It appeared the victim began to take small shallow breaths but still remained unresponsive. After a minute of no more improvement, Officer Alexander supplied a second dose. Now, the victim partially opened his eyes and after approximately 5 minutes was fully recovered. At that point medics arrived on scene to check the victim.

We are honored to present the Life Saving Award to Officer David Alexander.

Life Saving Award

While responding to a welfare call on July 4th, officers came across a subject who hung himself. The dispatched officers, John Weaver, Phillip Johnson, Josh Allen and Scott Behrend were able to keep the subject in a condition that gave the best chance of survival. They took turns to provide CPR to the individual while directing EMS to their location. The ambulance responded and advised they were able to read the subjects heart beating.

The subject later succumbed to his injuries but without these officers’ actions there would have been little or no hope at all.

We honor the actions of Officers John Weaver, Scott Behrend, Phil Johnson and Joshua Allen by presenting them a Life Saving Award.

Life Saving Award

Officers were dispatched to the scene of a possible overdose in the early morning hours of on March 23rd. Inside an apartment they located a 25 year old female lying on unresponsive on the kitchen floor. Officers Luis Aparicio and Kelly Womack arrived first and were able to quickly determine from a male in the apartment that she had possibly overdosed on narcotics. Officers evaluated the situation of the female. Because he was carrying his Narcan auto-injector, Officer Aparicio was able to immediately administer it. At that time, the female was still not breathing so Officer Womack began CPR. Officer Jimmy Johns arrived shortly thereafter and began to assist with CPR. They continued these resuscitation efforts on the female until Tyler Fire Department personnel arrived on scene. A short time later, the female began breathing on her own and was alert—eventually sitting up and walking to the nearby stretcher. All officers involved displayed excellent teamwork and communication which saved the life of the female.

We happily present Officers Luis Aparicio, Kelly Womack and Jimmy Johns the Lifesaving Award.

Life Saving Award

This officer was on his way home from work when he came across a rollover vehicle accident. This officer and two other citizens immediate exited their vehicles and located the single occupant of the vehicle. The man had been ejected from his vehicle and was lying unresponsive on the ground near the accident.

He had no pulse and was not breathing. Officer James McCraw began chest compressions and the victim began gasping for air and began breathing more regularly. A witness described the situation by saying, Officer McCraw “didn’t hesitate one bit or blink an eye, he went right to saving that man’s life.”

EMS arrived at the scene and transported the victim to Christus Mother Francis Hospital where he was labeled as “Critical but stable” condition.

The Tyler Police Department is pleased to present the Life Saving Award to Officer James McCraw.

Police Commendation

2019 was another year focused on combatting crime that occurred through fraud and stolen or skimmed credit card information. With the influx in skimmer cases coming to Tyler, the financial crimes unit had to develop a plan of action to deal with this new type of offence. Throughout the year, Sergeant Adam Colby and Detective Jeff Roberts met with elected officials including state representatives and the agriculture commissioner about the need for changes in some laws and the need for additional laws to address these types of crimes. Sgt. Colby testified before committees in the Texas Legislative and in one case before the entire Texas legislature. The actions of these two men have resulted in new laws and changes to existing laws to protect Texas consumers.

These two officers have worked with other members of the Forgery Unit and with Secret Service to develop a plan of action and have made many arrests with a high number of convictions and sentences but it is their leadership and knowledge of these types of crimes that has pushed them to the forefront of Texas law enforcement on this topic and brought praise to them and the Tyler Police Department.

We are honored to present Sergeant Adam Colby and Detective Jeff Roberts these Police Commendations.

Police Commendation

This year two detectives spearheaded the effort to help the Tyler Police Department become an affiliate agency of the North Texas Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force. These investigators are a branch of the Crimes Against Persons Unit but specialize in investigating cases that involve the physical and sexual abuse of children. These detectives are Investigators Keven Fite and Michelle Brock.

During this year, Detectives Fite and Brock have handled many cases dealing with the internet-related exploitation of children. Many of these investigations have resulted in the successful prosecution of defendants for criminal offences including possession of child pornography, promotion of child pornography and promotion of prostitution. The investigation of these internet related exploitation of children cases have also uncovered additional criminal conduct, including drug possession and sexual assault in which additional criminal charges were filed on the defendants.

As a part of furthering community education, both detectives have participated in on-duty and off-duty speaking events to education the public about the ongoing issues surrounding Internet Crimes Against Children.

We salute Detectives Keven Fite and Michelle Brock and present them with these Police Commendations.

Meritorious Conduct Award and CERTIFICATE OF MERIT

Officers were dispatched to a welfare concern on Stagecoach Drive in June of 2019. The sergeant on scene suspected the man had a weapon was possibly preparing for an attack. He took the initiative to contact the subject. Two Tyler employees approached the fenced backyard of the residence when the man opened fire. Officer Clint Jones and Sergeant James Freeman informed dispatch of the incident as they took cover. Thankfully neither was injured and they cleared civilians from the area but held the scene waiting for support. Both men handled this incident with great professionalism and courage. Sergeant Freeman directed responding officers to stage around the location as more shots were fired by the suspect. Officers contained the situation and ordered the man to drop the weapon. Clint and James were part of the react team who entered the backyard and arrested the subject without incident and he was transported to the jail.

The Tyler Police Department is honored to present Sergeant James Freeman with the Meritorious Conduct Award and Officer Clint Jones with a Certificate of Merit.

MASTER AWARD

VIDEOS

VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR

The Tyler Police Department is extremely fortunate to have many dedicated volunteers spending time at the PD. In 2019 volunteers worked over twenty three hundred (2,300) hours assisting with various assignments with our building and fleet unit, data management records and burglar alarm documentation.

Tyler Police Department is thrilled to present the Volunteer of the Year award to Caleb Pittman.

Caleb has been willing and able to do whatever tasks were assigned to him. During a Green Belt project by the Data Management supervisor, it was determined to reorganize the unit into a more efficient layout and this volunteer helped with all the reorganizing and moving furniture. During the summer, he helped plan and coordinate the file room by scanning old documents so unneeded paper could be destroyed. Caleb has taken the time to learn all aspects of data management so he can assist when they are shorthanded on day to day tasks. This volunteer has logged over 870 hours of volunteer time in 2019 and is a dedicated worker.

Please help us congratulate our 2019 Volunteer of the Year, Caleb Pittman.

CIVILIAN EMPLOYEE OF THE YEAR

The civilian staff of the Police Department cover many job descriptions in order to support law enforcement activities. This year’s civilian employee has been in this position for less than 2 years. She is a dedicated employee, willing to come in early, stay late or come in on her day off if needed and steps up as her unit supervisor if that employee has to be out.

We are happy to award the Civilian Employee of the Year to Crime Analyst Michelle Foster.

When she came to the position with it was the bare basics of running numbers through RMS for stats and reporting NIBRS. Michelle learned those basic quickly and with the knowledge she obtained, began to question the ways of how the numbers were pulled so she could better understand the results she was getting. She discovered better ways to get the needed information and helped many officers researching issues to get the best grasp of the numbers available. She has continued to take webinars and classes to further her knowledge and signed up for the Crime and Intelligence Analysis Program through California State University to become certified as a crime analysist.

Please help us congratulate our 2019 Civilian of the Year, Michelle Foster.

CIVILIAN SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR

The Civilian Supervisor of the Year is an individual who has the reputation of being a hard worker and constantly works to benefit her unit and department as a whole.

Data Management Supervisor Marisa Pittman is 2019’s Tyler Police Department’s Civilian Supervisor.

She tackled some hard tasks this year in reorganizing the office space where employees worked and where equipment such as printers were stationed. She got her entire unit on board with these changes to make everyone more effective. There was much space used in storing items that were not needed and we had no idea why they were kept for so long. Marisa enrolled in the City’s Green Belt Training to get some ideas on how to accomplish her goals and how to make her unit run to the best of its ability.

Due to the organization of this unit, two rooms were cleaned out and are now able to be used for a media room and the second was converted into a much needed secure property storage.

Please help us congratulate our 2019 Civilian Supervisor of the Year, Marisa Pittman.

ROOKIE OFFICER OF THE YEAR

Nominees for Rookie of the Year have less than two years of service as an officer with this department. New officers have to make the adjustment from being civilians to Tyler Police Officers.

We are proud to have this officer working for the Tyler Police Department. The 2019 Rookie Officer of the Year is Officer George Edwards.

This officer is a dedicated worker with a great attitude on and off shift. He frequently volunteers to work over to help shifts when they are short staffed. He has proved himself as an officer with strong character and relies on his training and focusing on community service in multiple high stress situations this last year.

Please help us congratulate our 2019 Rookie of the Year, George Edwards.

UNIT OF THE YEAR

The 2019 Unit of the Year is comprised of a group of motivated officers that work hard during hours that generally keep them out of the public eye. The officers on this shift work hard to prevent crime and deal with issues specific to their hours of work such as disturbances, burglaries and intoxicated persons or drivers.

The Tyler Police Department is pleased to present the 2019 Unit of the Year award to the Night Shift Patrol.

These officers come to work each night to handle the city’s problems knowing they can rely on each other. In 2019, Night shift completed multiple monthly projects targeting specific crimes. This included many hours of surveillance for burglary suspects as well as monitoring of high-crime apartments and drug locations for targeted enforcement using marked and unmarked PD vehicles. In April 2019 the shift made 23 separate arrests through DWI patrols which was more than all DWI arrests from the previous April.

This group of men and women are very deserving of this recognition and now please help us congratulate our 2019 Unit of the Year, Night Shift Patrol.

PLAINCLOTHES OFFICER OF THE YEAR

The qualifications for nomination for this award exemplify an investigator whose effectiveness is highly rated and is above average in his or her work.

The investigative division has had a lot of accomplishments in 2019. One of the most impactful was the creation of a digital forensics examiner position to deal with cell phone and computer forensics. This employee was tasked with originating this position and getting our department up to speed in this area.

It is with great pleasure the Tyler Police Department announces Dennis Mathews as the 2019 Plainclothes Officer of the Year.

Over the past year, Dennis has voluntarily attended two significantly long term schools to educate and train him for his new position. The length of training was undoubtedly an inconvenience for Dennis’s family and we thank them for their support of his career. His successful completion of the training has resulted in Tyler PD receiving tens of thousands of dollars of forensic equipment and licensing. He has quickly made himself a valuable asset to every investigator in CID. He has a great attitude and is willing to help anyone at any time. He is now the go-to guy for anything cell phone or computer related. His work has directly contributed to the resolution of several high profile cases including the Razoo’s robbery and multiple ICAC child porn cases.

Please help us congratulate our 2019 Plainclothes Officer of the Year, Dennis Mathews.

SWORN SUPERVISOR OF THE YEAR

One of the most demanding jobs in the Tyler Police Department is that of Sworn Supervisor. Supervisors must earn the respect of the officers, other supervisors, and civilians throughout the police department. We are fortunate to have a lot of great supervisors, many of who deserve to be recognized for individual accomplishments.

Tonight, the Tyler Police Department is honored to recognize Sgt. Adam Parker as the Sworn Supervisor of the Year.

Under his supervision, the bicycle team and K9 unit have had amazing successes with street level narcotics interdiction and their stats for drug arrests are the highest they have been in recent memory. Adam’s influence doesn’t stop there. He is a supervisor for the SWAT team, instructor on multiple law enforcement topics such as defensive tactics and firearms. This supervisor has overseen security for multiple large scale events which were very high profile in our community. He always has a good attitude and a smile on his face and his positive influence stretches to every area of the department.

Please help us congratulate the 2019 Sworn Supervisor of the year, Adam Parker.

Officer of the Year

Today’s Officer of the Year is highly respected among all employees. This officer is a hard worker and volunteers for calls no matter where they are. He has been known to hit the street before the official start of his shift if calls are stacking up in order to promptly serve our community.

Please join us as we celebrate this year’s Officer of the Year: Officer Rex Pitts.

Rex maintains a cheerful attitude and superb attendance record and always has a kind word for everyone he meets.

He is great at deescalating situations and is very knowledgeable after 24 years of service to Tyler. He took the initiative to contact the Railroad commission and get an abandoned railroad crossing on the North loop labeled as a non-working crossing so traffic does not have to stop. This project took him almost 2 years of his own time and will help alleviate the numbers of traffic accidents in the area.

Please help us congratulate the 2019 Officer of the Year, Officer Rex Pitts.

VIDEO: Tyler PD awards banquet 2020

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