How seven everyday heroes served and protectect Port Orange in 2018.
Port Orange Police Chief Thomas Grimaldi held a brief awards ceremony for seven officers who showed exemplary service at the regular city council meeting held on Tuesday, Feb. 5.
The award of merit was presented to Sgt. Zachary Burd, Sgt. William Harrison, Officer Kelsie Higham and Detective Michael Wallace for outstanding investigative work that led to the uncovering of a statewide fraud operation.
On Aug. 4, 2018, a cashier at Walmart called the Port Orange Police because she recognized several individuals from an intelligence bulletin placed in the store. The suspects were possibly using stolen credit cards to make fraudulent purchases. Burd and Higham immediately went to the store, identified the suspects, secured them and began their investigation to develop probable cause to arrest them.
The suspects were arrested on several charges. Suspecting the individuals were part of a larger crime ring, the officers consulted with Wallace.
Wallace and Harrison began interviewing the suspects and were able to link the arrested persons and seven other suspects to a criminal enterprise that operated throughout the state of Florida, which had affected 21 victims.
Over $4,000 worth of goods were recovered and the case was turned over to the Racketeer Influence and Corrupt Organization.
Wallace was not able to attend the award presentation due to a family illness. Grimaldi also stated that Higham will soon be promoted to detective.
The award of achievement was presented to Officers Wayne Jean, Justin Sorrell and Jason Raynor. The three officers were called to the Dunlawton bridge on Dec.5, 2018, where a female was on the outer ledge of the bridge, holding onto the railing and threatening to jump.
Sorrell and Raynor engaged in conversation with her and occupied her. Eventually, Jean was able to take her hand, help her over the railing and led her to the pedestrian side of the bridge, onto the sidewalk and to safety. Their team work and preservation of life were recognized.
Port Orange Mayor Don Burnette said he happened to be going over the Dunlawton Bridge at the time the incident was taking place. He pulled over and saw the woman climb back over the rail to the sidewalk.
“It seemed like an eternity,” he said, “You had a life in your hands, all three of you, and it could have been gone like that.”
Burnette took the opportunity to recognize the agency for its officers.
“These are the men and women, the type of people we have working on our behalf,” Burnette said.