By Mike Kinney
The citizens and police officers of Richmond who have gone the extra mile in order to make the community safer were honored at the 35th Annual Crime Prevention Awards Banquet on Saturday.
Over 125 people attended the gala celebration at the city’s Park & Recreation Administration headquarters held by the Richmond Police Department and the city’s Crime Prevention Program. Unfortunately, one critical member of the public safety community, Sims Thompson, a longtime resident and community advocate who became well known for regularly reporting blight and safety concerns to local authorities, died last week at age 85. This year’s Awards Banquet was held in remembrance to Thompson.
The awards banquet recognized five citizens, three police officers, one police K-9 and a neighborhood watch group for their efforts to prevent crime.
“Community safety is everybody’s responsibility, not just the job of police, and that’s evidenced by what’s showing here tonight,” Richmond police Chief Allwyn Brown said.
Awards for Volunteers of the Year for Neighborhood Watch went to Marva Lyons (Hilltop Green), Platon Kavvadias (Hilltop Village) and Annie King-Meredith (North Richmond). The Neighborhood Watch Group of the Year award went to the Hilltop Green Neighborhood Watch Group.
Other Awards went to Victor Rocha, Dispatcher of the Year, the Service Award went to Felicia Taylor and Leftside Printing on 23rd Street was named Business of the Year.
Three cops named Officers of the Year were nominated by the community for their civic-minded policing. Det. Aaron Mandell received five nominations for his work ethic, intelligence, and passion and empathy toward the community. Officer Lacquanna Caston was similarly praised for her consistency and dedication to bettering the community.
And Richmond police K-9 Officer Brandon Hodges, who has been recognized for his impressive work in the past, including helping save a man’s life via CPR several years ago, was recognized for his work with K-9 star Gunnar. Hodges and Gunnar were nominated due to their teamwork in getting many guns off the streets. Hodges has an uncanny ability to locate the suspects, and Gunnar very effective at locating weapons.
The awards banquet “recognizes the members of our community that have really distinguished themselves in stepping up to volunteer their time all in the name of preventing crime,” Chief Brown said.