VANDALIA – The Vandalia Division of Police has named Detective Garry Lawson as its Police Officer of the Year and School Crossing Guard Cheryl Watson as its Civilian Employee of the Year for 2016.
“Your service to the citizens of Vandalia and the high regard in which you are held are evident in your nomination and selection by your peers,” wrote Police Chief Douglas Knight in memorandums to each announcing the awards.
They will be formally presented by the Vandalia Lions Club in May.
Knight noted that Lawson’s nominator and the Selection Committee found that during 2016 Detective Lawson was involved in several high profile, high priority cases. Detective Lawson was assigned to investigate several break-ins at local firearms store. During these investigations, Detective Lawson teamed up with agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco & Firearms and other local agencies to track potential suspects, participate in stakeouts, listen to hours of jail telephone conversations, and recover stolen property and evidence. Detective Lawson’s dedication and investigative expertise led to identifying and apprehending several suspects in the firearms store break-ins. Additionally, these same suspects were identified is several other firearms stores’ burglaries across the Miami Valley. Detective Lawson represented VPD is a positive manner and organized intelligence sharing among local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies that led to the arrests and convictions of these suspects.
In November, Detective Lawson was notified by Officer Manning of a felony theft from a local business where nearly two million dollars was transferred out of the business’ checking account. The theft occurred through numerous unauthorized wire transfers to bank accounts in foreign counties. The perpetrators locked the business out of their checking account website so they would not discover the theft. Detective Lawson immediately contacted the business and even accompanied a business representative to their bank to obtain the necessary documents for the investigation. Detective Lawson quickly contacted the FBI about the theft, and they were able to stop several of the wire transfers before the company lost a substantial amount of money. Detective Lawson’s quick actions and intuitive investigative skills prevented the loss of at least $1.5 million dollars from the business.
Detective Lawson was also instrumental in obtaining confessions for several other burglaries and robberies in Vandalia. Most notably in December, he obtained confessions from two suspects who had committed several break-ins at the Vandalia-Butler High School over a period of several months.
Detective Lawson is always willing to respond in to work when a detective’s assistance is required on an investigation. One supervisor commented, “Detective Lawson serves as a positive role model for the younger officers in both his on and off duty activities.” Another supervisor noted, “Detective Lawson brings a wealth of knowledge and investigative experience to the Criminal Investigations Section.” Detective Lawson maintains positive interaction with the public and his co-workers. He is often consulted by his peers when it comes to complex or unique investigations where his knowledge and experience provides guidance during a follow-up.
“Detective Lawson is an exceptional employee and representative of the Vandalia Division of Police. He is an asset to the Police Division and the Vandalia community,” Knight wrote.
In her commendation memo, Knight notes that Watson is in her 26th year of employment with the Vandalia Division of Police. SCG Watson arrives well prepared for each shift and routinely greets students and parents as they arrive for school. She is truly passionate about her job and responsibilities and leaves lasting impressions on anyone she encounters. She is a great representative for the Vandalia Division of Police. As a long standing employee, SCG Watson is remembered by past students, who are now bringing their children to school. This brings a strong relationship for the community and Division of Police. SCG Watson rarely calls off sick and is dependable to staff her post as a crossing guard despite the weather. She frequently receives compliments from students, parents, and school officials for her pleasant demeanor and positive attitude. Additionally, SCG Watson is involved with the Passport to Safety Program and truly has a passion for the program and students.
SCG Watson maintains community involvement during her personal time. She is an active member of the Neighborhood Watch Program. She helps organize the annual Christmas carry-in dinner and preparation of food for the Neighborhood Watch Program. She also volunteered last year to assist teaching young students about cooking while helping in St. Christopher School kindergarten class.
“SCG Watson is an exceptional employee and representative of the Vandalia Division of Police. She is an asset to the Police Division and the Vandalia community,” said Knight.
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.