Interim Lebanon Police Chief Mike Justice announced to the Lebanon City Council on Tuesday night that three employees were honored recently for their outstanding service.
During the department's annual holiday gathering, Sierra Luna, Dawna Gutierrez and Det. David Wilmore were selected by their peers to receive awards.
Luna was selected as the 2015 Communications Officer of the Year. Luna began her career with LPD in March 2011. She is a 2010 graduate of Cumberland University in Lebanon, where she earned a Bachelor's Degree in Criminal Justice.
Justice called Luna a "great asset to the Police Department."
Gutierrez was named the 2015 Civilian Employee of the Year. Gutierrez began her career with LPD in 1997 in the Communications Division. She became the agency's Communications Supervisor in 1999. Gutierrez left LPD in 2000 to pursue a career at the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation; however, returned to Lebanon in 2006 to resume her role as Communications Supervisor, in addition to responsibilities as Terminal Agency Coordinator.
She currently maintains the duties of the Terminal Agency Coordinator, but is assigned to the Administrative Division of the department. Gutierrez is also a Child Passenger Safety Technician.
Det. Wilmore was selected as the 2015 Officer of the Year. Wilmore has been employed with the department since 1999. He is assigned to the Criminal Investigation Division and is responsible for general detective duties.
In April 2010, Wilmore graduated from the National Forensic Academy and is now the Crime Scene Team Coordinator. He also assists in community outreach projects, such as speaking with criminal justice classes at Wilson Central High School, the LPD's Citizen Academy and Youth Academy. Wilmore serves as a member of the Honor Guard.
Council votes to create PIO position
During Tuesday night's meeting, councilors also unanimously approved an ordinance which will create a new Public Information Officer position for the Police Department.
Justice explained that his goal was to "formalize a position that's already there." He said that one of the officer's frequently writes press releases, coordinates the Citizens Police Academy and more - and often gets 30 hours of overtime in the process.
He added that a dispatch supervisor has been helping with social media updates. By hiring a Public Information Office, it would free an officer up to "get back on the road" and reduce overtime cost of having officers do multiple jobs.
"It is basically putting in place what we are already doing and puts an officer back on the street," he said.
Some councilors inquired about the importance of LPD having a presence on social media outlets. Justice referenced the Mt. Juliet Police Department "doing well" - connecting to the community on outlets like Facebook and Twitter.
He said that having a social media presence puts citizens in contact with the police.
"The quicker we can get (information) out and the clearer we can get it out - the better off we are," he said. "There is a huge want and need for information."
Ash: I don't want our guys to be outgunned
Ward 4 City Council Member Bernie Ash brought an ordinance forth on Tuesday to authorize the purchase of fifty patrol carbines for the Lebanon Police Department.
The ordinance was unanimously approved by council on first reading.
As previously reported, Ash said that he realized the need for better arming officers after the recent terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California. "I was watching those police officers on TV and they were showing up with handguns," he told The Wilson Post. "Talking to our police officers here - they don't have assault weapons either."
The cost of providing assault rifles to local officers is estimated around $45,000. Ash said additional training will be involved as well.
"I don't want our guys to be outgunned," he said. "I don't want to put them in a situation where they are being fired at with assault rifles and all they have are pistols."
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at email@example.com.