Aiken Public Safety honors officers at annual awards ceremony
Law enforcement officers and employees were honored for their service to the community Thursday during the Aiken Department of Public Safety’s annual awards ceremony.
The ceremony was held at Newberry Hall in downtown Aiken, where a roast beef dinner was served.
The guest speaker was former Clarendon County Fire Chief Carter Jones, who said his relationship with Aiken Public Safety goes back to the mid 1970s.
Jones spoke about the importance of remembering the past police officers and firemen who helped make the agency what it is today.
“Remember the noble deeds of remote ancestors,” Jones said. “We, too, have a rich history and I encourage you all to continue making a difference.”
The majority of the awards given Thursday were for Certificates of Commendation and Letters of Appreciation, which are presented to individuals who perform exemplary in the line of duty, unselfishly devote time to a worthy community project or perform a valuable service to the department that will assist in developing community relations and recognition for the department.
There were also several Life-Saving Awards given to officers who have saved a life over the last year. Those awards can only be received once in an officer’s career.
One of those award-winners was Officer Justin Russo. He responded to a call about a shooting on Brandt Court in the Paces Run Apartment Complex and found a victim suffering from a gunshot wound who was bleeding profusely.
His quick thinking to stop the bleeding before paramedics arrived saved the victim’s life, said Sgt. Jennifer Hayes, who was announcing the award recipients.
The Rookie of the Year Award was given to Officer Jacob Winbar for “showing superior skills and composure not even seen by some seasoned professionals” in difficult situations.
The ceremony ended with the winner of the coveted Officer of the Year Award, which was presented to Officer Jason Griffin for his “outstanding work” for the department, which includes taking the lead on an investigation of a murder on Jehosse Drive.
Griffin received a standing ovation.
Aiken Public Safety Chief Charles Barranco ended the evening with a passionate speech honoring former Aiken Public Safety Chief J. Carrol Busbee, who died Jan. 3 at the age of 86.
“Chief Busbee loved this award ceremony,” Barranco said. “He also loved Aiken Public Safety.”
Busbee was the agency’s first chief in 1970.
Barranco also gave all the officers some final words before ending the event.
“To be successful, you must have passion,” Barranco said. “Use your passion everyday. A great leader’s courage to fulfill his vision comes from passion, commitment, accountability, community service and integrity – now, it’s time to challenge yourselves. Train hard, lead with passion and serve others with compassion and respect. What will you be remembered for – what will your legacy be?