By Sarah Hogsed
Register News Writer
A dozen Richmond police officers and special agents with the federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms were recognized Tuesday for their efforts in taking down a large cocaine trafficking ring and finding answers to the disappearance of a local couple.
This honor, along with several others, was given Tuesday night at the annual Richmond Police Department banquet at the Madison County Extension Center.
Assistant Chief Bob Mott called the drug ring and murder investigations, which spanned more than two years, the largest ever conducted in Madison County.
In March 2012, the bodies of Charles Walker and Sonsaray Warford were found in shallow graves off Tates Creek Road. Three men have been charged in connection with the couple’s slaying, and police allege the order for the killings came from the cocaine trafficking ring’s leader.
That man, Jakolbe Chenault, has not yet been charged in the murder case, however he was sentenced late last year to 20 years in federal prison on money-laundering and drug-trafficking counts.
Mott said more than 40 people have been arrested in connection with the trafficking ring, many of whom have been sentenced to federal prison terms. The investigation into the trafficking and murders still continues, Mott said.
“Not all involved have been charged,” he said.
Mott talked at length about the criticism the RPD received from community members and some of the victims’ family who thought the police were not working hard enough to solve the crime.
Mott said RPD officers were working daily in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies to find the missing couple.
He added that during an active investigation, the police cannot share all information with family members without endangering the outcome of the case.
Mott said the criticism was “disheartening” to many on the force, but it made officers even more determined to break the case.
Twelve people were recognized with the Exceptional Service Award for their work on the drug rings and missing couple cases.
They were: Detective Ben Spaulding, Sgt. Rodney Tudor, Sgt. Rodney Richardson, Detective William J. O’Donnell, Detective Matt Boyle, Detective Eric Long, Detective Keith Daniel, Officer Alfred “Chip” Gray, RPD Intern Brandon Roark and Assistant Chief Robert Mott.
Also honored were two ATF agents and their supervisor who worked closely with the RPD on the investigation.
“In this case we couldn’t have done it without the support of the ATF,” Mott said.
The ATF special agents recognized were Russell King and Brad Brasher.
The RPD Criminal Investigations Division also received a unit citation for these investigations.
American Legion Law Enforcement Officer of the Year 2012
The American Legion named Detective William J. O’Donnell as the 2012 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year at Tuesday night’s banquet.
O’Donnell was honored for his outstanding investigative efforts in bringing two-long term homicide investigations to successful conclusions, including the “missing couple” case, according to RPD Chief Larry Brock.
This award is sponsored by American Legion Post 12. Adjutant Cecil Walker made the presentation of the award to O’Donnell, and this is the fourth year that the American Legion has sponsored and presented this award.
Perfect Attendance in 2012
Awarded to employees who missed no days of work during the year due to illness (* indicates second consecutive year of perfect attendance).
Officer Daniel Deaton*, Officer Nicholas Duvall*, Officer Clayton Stocker, Detective Joshua Roaden, Sgt. Rodney Richardson, Sgt. Rodney Tudor*, Sgt. Catherine Eaves* and Sgt. Don Waldrop
Awarded to employees who made a major contribution toward saving a life prior to the arrival of EMS personnel.
Officer Joshua Petry and Corporal Jason Adkins, for CPR that kept a heart attack victim alive until EMS could arrive and transport him to the hospital on May 11, 2011.
Officer Kurtis Heatherton and Officer Norman Craig, for CPR that revived a man who had collapsed and stopped breathing at a local business on March 17, 2012.
Officer Devin Thomas and Officer Paul Richardson, for taking action to control the bleeding of a man who had severe self-inflicted knife wounds to the neck until EMS could intervene.
Citizens Service Award
Awarded to members of the community who have aided police department members or rendered meritorious service to the community law enforcement effort.
Retired Richmond Police Chief Russell Lane, honored for his career dedication to the department as an officer and as a volunteer on various advisory panels.
Awarded to long-serving employees who have maintained a high level of performance, outstanding attitudes and represent the department in the most favorable light.
Officer Zachary McDaniel, recognized for his exceptional work ethic and cooperative spirit over the past eight years.
Special Recognition Award
Awarded to recognize employees who make a significant contribution to the department’s mission.
Officer Whitney Maupin and Officer Joshua Hale, for their involvement with youth in the community as school resource officers and overseers of the RPD Summer Camp for kids.
Assistant Chief Robert Mott and Sgt. Roy Johnson, for 10 years of service to the Emergency Response Unit. They were original members of the team.
Detective Eric Long, for 8.5 years of dedicated service to RPD. He resigned on April 15 to accept an instructor’s position at the Department of Criminal Justice Training.
Special Act Award
Awarded to recognize a specific act by an officer that proved significant in the protection of the public, a fellow officer, or crucial to the arrest of dangerous individual.
Officer Nicholas Duvall, for his quick thinking actions on March 16, 2012, when he utilized his patrol car to bring an out-of-control police vehicle to a stop after an accident had rendered the officer driving the vehicle unconscious.
Officer Kelli Fraze, for her efforts in identifying and gaining the cooperation of a witness that led to the location of four suspects involved in a shooting incident. The two men actually involved in the shooting had a history of violence and were ultimately convicted in connection with the incident.
Distinguished Service Award 2012
Presented to officers who distinguish themselves by exceptional service or outstanding performance during the year or over a course of years.
Officer Daniel Deaton, for leading the department in DUI arrests for the past three years, having perfect attendance the past two years, clearing 65 percent of his cases during the past year, and actively volunteering at the RPD summer camp and with the Domestic Violence working group.