Wakulla County, FL -- May 20, 2011 --
Wakulla County Sheriff David Harvey honored three members of the WCSO staff as well as a Crawfordville family for their support of law enforcement in 2010. The recognition was part of the 19th Annual Law Day activities at Harvey-Young Farm.
May is Law Enforcement Appreciation Month and the event gives the community a chance to express appreciation to the men and women of law enforcement throughout the Big Bend. U.S. Congressman Steve Southerland was the guest speaker.
The 2011 honorees included: Lt. Dale Evans as Deputy of the Year; Lt. Scott Barwick as Correctional Officer of the Year; Tracy Lane as Communications Officer of the Year and the Nelson family of George Nelson, Mary Nelson and Lueberta Nelson Crump as Volunteers of the Year in Support of Law Enforcement. Law Day was held Friday, May 20 with Star and Shield and Culpepper Construction serving as the sponsors. Guests enjoyed a catered seafood meal by Posey’s.
· Lt. Dale Evans is in his second stint with the Wakulla County Sheriff’s Office. Evans was hired Feb. 16, 1995 and worked with the sheriff’s office until Sept. 6, 2004. After working in the private sector, Evans joined the sheriff’s office again March 20, 2009.
Evans was just a teenager when he began working in the communications division as a dispatcher at age 19. By age 21, he was promoted to sergeant and worked as part of the road patrol. Eventually he worked in criminal investigations as a property and person crimes investigator, as a K-9 officer, in the narcotics unit and back to road patrol.
During his time away from the sheriff’s office he worked as a fire and security technician at General Dynamics. During this time he remained a member of the WCSO Reserve. He returned to the sheriff’s office to work in corrections and landed back on the road patrol before Sheriff Harvey created the WCSO Traffic Unit.
Lt. Evans has attended special schooling for traffic homicide and traffic reconstruction. His specialty classes include three dimensional mapping called photogrammetry and laser mapping. As K-9 officer, Evans worked with Kane and Dante. He is certified in traffic crash reconstruction as well as advanced Traffic Crash and Motorcycle Crash investigation.
Lt. Evans has four children who range in age from 7 to 16, Morgan, D.J. Madison and Katlin. He is engaged to former Florida State University volleyball player Erica Bunch who serves as the Wakulla Lady War Eagle volleyball coach.
Evans’ mother, Evelyn is a longtime employee of the Wakulla Clerk of the Court. His father, Frank is a former county employee with the planning and zoning department who is now employed by the Panacea Area Water System. Dale has a brother Frank who lives in Sopchoppy.
In 2010, Lt. Evans and the Traffic Unit worked two fatal accidents that claimed the lives of three motorists. He calls his present job “the best job I have ever had in law enforcement.”
“I’m eager to learn more,” he said. “The traffic part of it has become a passion. We’ve taken it to a whole new level.”
The Traffic Unit has been a great benefit to Wakulla County as it has cut response times and kept citizens from having to wait on state investigators to respond to minor accidents from great distances. “They’re not just a case number to us,” he said. “We try to take care of them. We are constantly learning new ways to do thing,” he concluded.
Captain Randall Taylor presented the award to Lt. Evans.
· The reserved Lt. Scott Barwick said he was “proud to receive it,” when asked what the award meant to him.
Barwick was hired on June 23, 1999 and worked until Oct. 15, 2000. After working in private industry, Lt. Barwick was hired again on Dec. 22, 2003. On April 30, 2010 he was certified as part of the Crisis Intervention Team and on Sept. 28, 2010 he was certified as the Field Training Officer for corrections.
Some of his duties include quartermaster over supplies, environmental health officer in the jail, certified locksmith for the Immigrations Customs Enforcement (ICE) standards and assigning trustees to work crews.
He began his corrections career working security with inmates. He took a break from law enforcement to work in the family seafood business with his father Ronnie Barwick. The family business included Barwick crab houses and a commercial fishing venture. Lt. Barwick said he realized that the commercial fishing industry was not going to provide his family with the retirement he desired.
“I like doing it,” he said. “I’ve enjoyed corrections. I’ve had a chance to go to road patrol but this is my comfort zone.”
He and his wife, Penny, have two daughters, Alexandria and Trista and an adopted niece, Deserea.
“I knew I wanted some retirement and the seafood industry has been legislated almost out of business entirely,” he concluded. “I love the corrections aspect of the operation. I’ll leave the road patrol to the younger guys.”
Major Jared Miller presented the award to Lt. Barwick.
· Tracy Lane was selected as Communications Officer of the Year. She joined the sheriff’s office on July 18, 2008 and has Criminal Justice Information Services Certification. Lane said she is proud of have received the designation, but her real joy is serving the citizens of Wakulla County.
“I really love it,” she said of communications. “It can be challenging at times, but I’ve always wanted to do something in law enforcement.” She discovered that the sheriff’s office had a dispatch opening in 2008 and jumped at the opportunity.
“I’ve always wanted to help people and make a difference in the community,” she said. “You never know if you are the last voice the caller is going to hear so I’m compassionate with everybody.”
She and her husband Kenneth fell in love with Wakulla County. Polk County natives, they also lived in Georgia and Inverness before moving back to Wakulla. Tracy has worked in the hardware and construction company businesses.
Dinner table discussions can begin with law enforcement topics since Tracy is in communications and Kenneth is employed in corrections at the Leon County Sheriff’s Office. The couple has four children, Dustin, Justin, Cassie and Christopher.
“I love the people I work with and I want to make a difference in somebody’s life. I have always wanted to be part of the community and I feel like I am part of the community.
The communications division includes seven women and three men who man the telephones, computers and radios. “They are a wonderful group of people,” she said. “I love them all. I’ve always been fascinated with this kind of work and I’m very passionate about it.”
Emergency Management Director Scott Nelson presented the award to Officer Lane.
The Nelson family was honored as Volunteers of the Year in Support of Law Enforcement. For George Nelson, Mary Nelson and Lueberta Nelson Crump, Oct. 22, 2010 will be a night they won’t soon forget. They all live across U.S. Highway 319 from the Wakulla Shrine Club.
During the evening hours a wedding reception was being held at the facility. As one of the wedding party members from Lake City was leaving the facility, she pulled out in front of oncoming traffic and two of the five passengers inside the sedan were killed and another was severely injured.
The Nelsons, who are all brothers and sisters, offered beverages and comfort to family members’ right after the accident occurred. They also allowed law enforcement to set up a staging area to investigate the crash and coordinate the landing of a medical helicopter to transport the most seriously injured victim to the hospital.
“I felt like it was just the thing to do,” said Crump. “I was glad I was there to help.
“My mother always taught us to do for other people because you never know when you might need help,” said George Nelson.
A mother and daughter closest to the crash impact died that night, but there were three survivors in the vehicle. Two motorists in a truck also survived the severe crash.
The Nelsons helped family members of the victims locate a lost bracelet along the side of the highway.
Sheriff Harvey added that citizens don’t always want to get involved to help law enforcement, but the Nelsons did.
“It was a horrible scene,” said Captain Billy Jones of the Traffic Unit. “These fine folks opened their homes and provided a safe staging area offering something to drink and comfort. For an accident scene of this magnitude it was very important that they had the courage to step up and help us.”
John Nelson and Alfred Nelson accepted the awards on behalf of George Nelson and Mary Nelson. Captain Billy Jones presented the award to the Nelson family.
The keynote speaker for the event was U.S. Congressman Steve Southerland. Congressman Southerland’s message was one of support and appreciation for law enforcement.
“I’ve always had committed law enforcement men and women in my life,” he said. “I may have taken you for granted, but I can’t imagine life without you. Law enforcement, you are the heroes. You provide order to a society that seems to be spinning out of control.”
Sheriff David Harvey recognized Star & Shield and Culpepper Construction for their sponsorship of the 2011 event.