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Elks honor local law enforcement employees

A group of local law enforcement are honored Thursday night by the Mineral Area Elks in Desloge during the 27th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night. 

The 27th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Night was held Thursday evening at the Mineral Area Elks Lodge in Desloge.

Roland Seal, of the Mineral Area Elks, opened the night by talking about law enforcement and the great sacrifices they make. Roland said that law enforcement is often overlooked and the Elks feel it is important to give these men and women a night to be recognized for keeping communities safe.

The keynote speaker of the evening was Desloge City Administrator Dan Bryan. He talked about his criminal justice background and his work with the Missouri Department of Corrections. Bryan also discussed the upcoming Prop P that voters in Desloge will be deciding in April.

“The most critical thing that Prop P will do is increase public safety,” said Bryan. “Our men and women in uniform need to have the funds to do their job effectively to protect the citizens."

Each local department took the time to nominate and recognize their officer of the year.

The first award of the evening was Desloge Municipal Officer of the Year and was presented by Chief James Bullock to Cpl. Dustin Cash.

Bullock said that Cash has been the night shift supervisor since being promoted to corporal and works to ensure all traffic accidents and data are submitted in a timely manner. He serves as Taser trainer for the department, and is in the process of converting the department to the new National Incident-Based Reporting System.

The Farmington Municipal Officer of the Year was presented to Officer Nicholas Newberry by Chief Rick Baker.

“Newberry has been a productive officer for the city from day one, is well motivated, and well respected by his peers,” said Baker. Officer Newberry was responsible for 122 arrests in 2018 and issued 201 citations.

In August of 2018, two part-time Bonne Terre officers responded to a call of a stolen vehicle. After locating the vehicle, the officers attempted to barricade vehicle and driver in a parking lot, taking gunfire and nearly being hit as the driver sped away.

“These officers put their life on the lines that day,” said Chief Doug Calvert. The Bonne Terre Municipal Officer of the Year was jointly awarded to Officers Brock LaPlant and Jason Jakoubek.

Officer Zachary Hedrick of the Park Hills Police Department was awarded the officer of the year by Chief Richard McFarland.

“Hedrick is known to be hardworking and professional by his fellow officers and in my opinion that says more about him than any statistic could,” said McFarland. Th chief went on to say that Hedrick is dedicated to the department as well as the community that he serves.

For his efforts in capturing a woman who had stolen thousands of dollars from several local banks in December, Officer Joseph Ulozas was awarded the Bismarck Municipal Officer of the Year by Chief Steven Poole.

“Officer Ulozas dedicates a great deal of time to the department’s crisis intervention program and serves as a liaison between the department and local mental health providers,” said Poole. In addition, Poole said Ulozas serves as the department’s evidence technician and maintains the highest number of criminal cases submitted within the department.

It’s not every day that the chief of police covers your shift so that you can attend a banquet, but that’s what happened for Officer Matthew Misuraca, the Leadington Municipal Officer of the Year. Officer Misuraca was recognized by Chief Dustin McKinney for his efforts in getting donations to pay for bulletproof vests for himself and his fellow officers. Misuraca has also been working to help the department obtain a K-9 unit.

“Cpl. Owens is a generous person and someone who cares about the small town where he works and the citizens who live there,” said Chief William Dickey of the Leadwood Police Department. Corporal Stephen Owens was named Leadwood Municipal Officer of the Year. Dickey said that Cpl. Owens is always willing to do whatever it takes to cover any shift that needs covered, even if it means covering the shift himself.

The St. Francois County Deputy of the year was awarded to Deputy Jim King.

“Our recommendation for deputy of the year comes not as someone who has performed some spectacular act, but as someone who has given lifelong service to the community and the sheriff’s department,” said Sheriff Dan Bullock. He went on to say that the deputy has given 23 years to the department, and fills in whenever needed.

“Jim is the kind of officer that every department needs, as he is very dependable and rarely takes time off,” said Bullock. “Jim is respected and admired by coworkers and law enforcement agencies throughout the county.”

Many times people tend to overlook a certain group when talking about law enforcement. That is the men and women who serve in our state parks. The Missouri State Park Ranger of the Year was awarded to Cpl. Chris Crider who works in St. Francois State Park. Crider is known as someone hard-working and dedicated to keep the park in order. In addition, Crider has taken extensive training and is now training local officers. Crider also, at one point, stepped up and served as park manager on top of the duties as a ranger.

Troopers with the Missouri State Highway Patrol are often seen by many people as only caring about “catching people.” That’s not the case, however, for Trooper Bradley Lueckenhoff.

Captain Stephen Ferrier, of MSHP Troop C, said Trooper Lueckenhoff is professional and committed to law enforcement and truly wants to make a difference in the lives of those he encounters daily. During a traffic stop, Lueckenhoff was able to observe that a man was in a poor state of mental health and, in fact, was on his way to end his life. Lueckenhoff located a suicide note in the man’s vehicle and rather than calling for backup or taking the man to jail, Lueckenhoff called for paramedics and the man was sent to receive mental health treatment.

“Lueckenhoff saved a man’s life that night,” said Ferrier, “... and for this we are pleased to announce that he is the Troop C MSHP Trooper of the Year.”

There is a very important force behind police officers every single time they get in the car. That is the dispatch personnel, those who dedicate their lives to informing and dispatching officers to various locations and checking their whereabouts and well-being. 911 Director Alan Wells chose Dispatcher Doug Graham as the Dispatcher of the Year.

“Doug’s professional knowledge, dedication, and ability to maintain a positive working environment make him an essential part of the communications center,” said Wells.

The St. Francois County Paramedic of the Year was Steven Dickey.

Dickey has been with St. Francois County Ambulance District since 2005 and was chosen by his peers to receive this year’s award. According to supervisors at the ambulance district, Dickey goes above and beyond in his duties, which include serving as paramedic educator. According to staff, Dickey is inspiring, positive, and always makes sure the community and people served by the district get the best care possible.

Another top honor presented during the annual banquet is the Mineral Area Elks St. Francois County Citizen of the Year. The 2018 citizen of the year was awarded to Desloge City Administrator Dan Bryan.

Bryan is a 1994 graduate of Central High School. He enlisted in the United States Army after graduation and after returning home, attended Mineral Area College. Bryan graduated from Mineral Area College with an Associate of Applied Science in Criminal Justice in 2006.

Bryan then earned his Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Central Methodist University in 2009. He went on to study criminal justice administration at Lindenwood University and earned his Master of Science in 2013.

Bryan worked at the Missouri Department of Corrections for more than 18 years. Bryan also taught criminal justice courses at Lindenwood, Mineral Area College and Southeast Missouri State University.

Bryan began a new chapter in his life in July of 2017 when he accepted the position of city administrator for the city of Desloge. Bryan and his wife, Jackie, live in Terre Du Lac and have been married for nearly 24 years. The couple has two sons.

Bryan is a member of the Mineral Area Community Elks Lodge 2583 and also serves the community as secretary for the St. Francois County Environmental Corporation.

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Matt McFarland is a reporter for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3616, or at mmcfarland@dailyjournalonline.com.

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