Remembering The Thin Blue Line
Brewington receives Officer of the Year award
A law enforcement officer who faced one of the most difficult assignments ever is the 2018 Laurens County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
JC Brewington with the Laurens Police Department was presented the award last Tuesday during a Police Memorial Day observance at the Higher Education Center. Chris Wilkes was the Clinton Department of Public Safety nominee, and Thomas Boyd was the Laurens County Sheriff’s Office’s officer of the year.
Laurens Police Chief Sonny Ledda said Brewington and his fellow officers had to respond to an emergency call from the residence of Brewington’s daughter. “This shows the humanity we have as law enforcement officers,” Ledda said. “We have to wear a lot of hats. We respond to scenes of friends and family.”
Ledda said Brewington started in traffic and was promoted to investigations. He said the hard work of traffic enforcement officers has led to Laurens County falling out of the Top 10 in annual traffic fatalities in South Carolina.
Clinton DPS Director Robin Morse said Officer Wilkes also works traffic, and will give a young person a break on a citation upon successful completion of the Alive At 25 safety training course. “Chris feels so strongly about this, he has become an instructor,” Morse said. “He is dedicated.”
Sheriff Don Reynolds said Boyd “has passion, you can’t teach that.”
Boyd has started working with the K9 unit, and Reynolds said he is known among sheriff’s office personnel as “big, humble, professional.”
“These officers,” Reynolds said, “have a job most of us don’t want. They’re not machines, and they don’t do it for the pay; they do it for the pride of service.”
“There are tough days. If you don’t have a sense of humor, get one,” said guest speaker Jackie Swindler, director of the SC Criminal Justice Academy. “I see all the new recruits that come through the academy. I tell them, ‘People will stop you and thank you for something you did. They will tell you, ‘What you did changed my life.’”
For 10 years, Swindler has traveled the country to teach ethics and integrity, often being asked to view video of incidents and arrests that have caused trouble for departments. Most of the time, he said, incidents escalate for a simple reason - “Someone does not follow a lawful command.”
Statistics show that among law enforcement officers, within the first five years, 53% have left the profession, Swindler said. “We have to have interaction with the public,” he said. “We are doing more with less revenue, and the reason is, we’re writing less tickets. No officer wants to be ‘the one’ on the evening news.”
Being community-oriented and a good communicator can diffuse a lot of potentially bad situations, he said. “We help people, and it makes a difference. We make a deposit in a person’s emotional bank account. That’s when you see a return on your investment.”
Swindler told the local officers assembled for the officer of the year program, “This is a great profession. I promise you it is.”