"We call it the virtues of policing," said Virginia Beach Police Chief, Jim Cervera, "it's a virtue to put your safety aside to assist another person." Chief Cervera was commenting on the actions of regional first responders who were in attendance at the Hampton Roads Chamber Valor Awards, an annual award ceremony that recognizes first responders who went above and beyond the call of duty over the last year. The Valor Awards, presented by Chesapeake Regional Healthcare, honors first responders with three categories of awards: Valor, Lifesaving, and Investigative Merit. This year 20 first responders were recognized for their bravery and resourcefulness in the line of duty.
"You've made Hampton Roads a safer place for all of us, " said Bryan Stephens, President and CEO of the Chamber, during his welcome address before he handed the reigns to event emcees Kurt Williams and Erica Greenway from WTKR News3. WTKR News3 partnered with the Hampton Roads Chamber this year to create videos to tell the stories of the brave men and women who received recognition during the award ceremony. Officer Michael Weeks, Virginia Beach Police Department, was one of the officers recognized with a Lifesaving Award, "it means a lot for the community" said Weeks, as he mentioned the importance of the regional scope of the recognition. "It's good to have interaction throughout the region." Sergeant Teresa Faesi, Portsmouth Sheriff's Office, and fellow Lifesaving Award honoree, stated that the Valor Awards are an "excellent" show of support for first responders. "We are very honored to be recognized," said Sergeant Faesi," just to be nominated was awesome."
Kicking off the award ceremony was a presentation of this year's scholarship to Chesapeake Police Sergeant Bradley Burton. Each year the Hampton Roads Chamber Foundation provides a $1,000 scholarship to one first responder who excels on the job and is continuing his or her education. Sergeant Burton is pursuing a Master's Degree in Public Administration from Old Dominion University.
The award ceremony continued with the presentation of the following awards:
The Lifesaving Award, presented by the Auto Connection, is awarded to a public safety official or unit in recognition of acts taken in a life-threatening situation where an individual’s life is in jeopardy, either medically or physically. This award may also be given for very complex rescues. The following individuals were awarded Lifesaving Awards: The Hampton Roads Chamber The following first responders received the LIFESAVING AWARD
Officer Ross Stolle- Virginia Beach Police Department
Officer Michael Weeks- Virginia Beach Police Department
Detective Stanley Alexander-Portsmouth Police Department
Officer Danielle Brown-Portsmouth Police Department
Sergeant Teresa Faesi-Portsmouth Sheriff’s Office
Firefighter Paramedic John Crombie-Chesapeake Fire Department
Firefighter EMT William Lawrence- Chesapeake Fire Department
Senior Firefighter Charles Poole-Chesapeake Fire Department
Lieutenant Marshall Smith-Chesapeake Fire Department
The Investigative Merit Award is awarded to the public safety official or unit for their integrity in investigative work. This includes, but is not limited to, solving a cold case, clearing a difficult active case or the outstanding overall supervision of a particularly unusual case that is brought to a successful conclusion. The following individuals received Investigative Merit awards:
Detective Standford Wayne Allen- Chesapeake Police Department
Detective Omar Higazi- Chesapeake Police Department
Detective William Cogswell- Norfolk Police Department
Detective Jeffrey Scott- Norfolk Police Department
Investigator Ryan Linville- Suffolk Police Department
Investigator Gary Parker- Suffolk Police Department
The Valor Award, presented by Sentara Healthcare, is the highest award in recognition of an act involving extreme personal risk which is clearly above and beyond the call of duty. This is awarded in situations when a public safety official/unit knowingly exposes himself/herself/themselves to great personal risk in the performance of an official act. The following individuals received Valor Awards:
Officer Heather Bishop- Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Konrad Kaufman- Chesapeake Police Department
Field Training Officer Jeffrey Barber-Portsmouth Police Department
Officer Ryan Crowder- Norfolk Police Department
In addition to receiving their awards, the honorees were presented with letters of recognition from U.S. Senator Mark Warner and Congressman Scott Taylor. Drew Lumpkin, Regional Director with Senator Mark Warner and Brenda Roberts, Congressman Scott Taylor's Deputy District Director were on hand to present the letters of recognition.
The event concluded with a final message of thanks to all the first responders. "This is very, very inspiring," said attendee Portsmouth Mayor John Rowe, "our first responders get up every day and put their lives on the line. They show courage and focus and love for their fellow citizens."
The Hampton Roads Chamber is honored to recognize the amazing men and women of our regional first responder teams with the Valor Awards. As an impactful advocate for our region, we continue to show our gratitude to our local first responders on behalf of the business community. The Hampton Roads Chamber wants to thank these men and women put themselves in harm's way each and every day.
Thank you to our sponsors: Presenting Sponsor, Chesapeake Regional Healthcare; Host Sponsor: Chesapeake Conference Center; Media Sponsor, WTKR News3; Gold Sponsor: Elizabeth River Crossings; Valor Award Sponsor, Sentara Healthcare; Lifesaving Award Sponsor, The Auto Connection; A/V Sponsor, Elite Audio Visual Elements; Decor Sponsor, Premier Events.
(Pictured here: The honorees with Kurt Williams and Erica Greenway from WTKR News3)