Media: All photos and narratives can be found here: https://scdps.sc.gov/news/2019/comm/Troop_of_year2018; https://www.flickr.com/photos/scdps/sets/72157679699812878. Ceremony photos can also be found on the SCDPS Facebook page.
Columbia – The South Carolina Department of Public Safety named its 2018 Trooper of the Year today from among a group of 11 troopers representing statewide regions and specialty units from the South Carolina Highway Patrol. SCHP also named a Telecommunications Operator of the Year from a group of four candidates. Seven troopers were also presented Medal of Valor and Purple Heart Awards. L/Cpl. Paul M. Wilkins of Troop Four (Cherokee/Union), was named the overall Trooper of the Year. Wilkins was unable to be present at the ceremony due to injuries he received this year after being struck by a vehicle during a traffic stop on I-85 in Cherokee County. TCO Daniel Valente, Greenville TCC, was named overall Telecommunications Officer winner.
“Sometimes your job will necessarily place you in the spotlight,” SCDPS Director Leroy Smith said to the recipients. “For many of you, this is not a place where you are comfortable. If asked about your deeds, your usual response is, “I was just doing my job.” I appreciate your humility but also your courage when it comes time to make those split-second decisions that can mean the difference between life and death. We recognize others today that consistently do their work with excellence, dedication to duty and serve as a role models for their peers.”
Col. Christopher Williamson reminded troopers:
“Being a public servant – especially in law enforcement -- demands that you have the attitude to serve and not be served; you must put others’ needs ahead of your own,” Williamson told the recipients. “This is an exciting time to be in law enforcement, when you can make a difference in your community and your state; when technology has transformed patrol cars into mobile offices and specialty teams allow diverse career paths for those who wear this uniform.”
2018 Trooper of the Year Winners
**L/Cpl. Paul M. Wilkins, Troop Four/Post A (Cherokee/Union) was the statewide winner **not pictured**
Front row: L/Cpl. James T. Hicks, T10; Sgt. Jeremy T. Leach, T9; Capt. Bobby J. Albert (accepting award for L/Cpl. Paul Wilkins, the overall winner); L/Cpl. Paul V. Yacobozzi, T6; Trooper Colby B. Grigg, T3;Second row: TFC Frank A. Virzi, T5; F/Sgt. J.C. Gambrell, T2; L/Cpl. Leon C. Porter, T8; L/Cpl. Daniel L. Wright, T7; L/Cpl. Joel Scott Hovis, T11; TFC James C. Welsh, T1.
2018 Medal of Valor Winners
L/Cpl. J.H. Wright (T5), L/Cpl. T.M. Graham (T5), Sgt. F.T. Cherry (T5), L/Cpl. M.L. McKenzie (T5), TFC C. D. Nicholson (T4), Trooper T.D. Landreth (T3).
Telecommunications Operator of the Year Winners
(TCO Daniel Valente -- second from right -- is the statewide winner)
TCO Flissa McEachern, Florence TCC, TCO Von Legrand Carrigg, Jr, Blythewood TCC, TCO Daniel Valente, Greenville TCC – Statewide winner, TCO Kimeko White, Charleston TCC
Director’s Medal of Valor Awards
Trooper T.D. Landreth (Troop Three)
TFC C. D. Nicholson (Troop Four)
Sgt. F.T. Cherry, L/Cpl. T.M. Graham. L/Cpl. M.L. McKenzie, L/Cpl. J.H. Wright (Troop Five)
Director’s Purple Heart Award
L/Cpl. P. M. Wilkins (Troop Four)
Trooper of the Year, Winners by Troop:
Troop One: TFC James C. Welsh
Troop Two: F.Sgt. J.C. Gambrell
Troop Three: Trooper Colby B. Grigg
Troop Four: L/Cpl. Paul M. Wilkins* -- Overall Statewide Winner
Troop Five: TFC Frank A. Virzi
Troop Six: L/Cpl. Paul V. Yacobozzi
Troop Seven: L/Cpl. Daniel L. Wright
Troop Eight: L/Cpl. Leon C. Porter
Troop Nine: Sgt. Jeremy T. Leach
Troop Ten: L/Cpl. James T. Hicks
Troop Eleven: L/Cpl. Joel S. Hovis
Telecommunications Operator of the Year Winners:
The South Carolina Department of Public Safety includes the Highway Patrol, State Transport Police, Bureau of Protective Services, Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs, Immigration Enforcement Unit and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Officers Hall of Fame. Our mission is to ensure public safety by protecting and serving the people of South Carolina and its visitors.