SALISBURY, NC (WBTV) - Law enforcement officials from local, state, and federal agencies throughout Rowan County were honored on Tuesday morning at the annual Respect For Law breakfast.
The event was presented by the Salisbury Lions Club and held at First Baptist Church. Dr. Karl Hales served as the emcee. Rowan County Sheriff Kevin Auten organized the event.
Awards were presented by law enforcement agencies to individual officers for their service over the past year.
Officers of the Year included: Willie Sanders of the East Spencer PD, Russell W. Miller of the Kannapolis PD, Matthew Geelen of the Landis PD, Trooper Benjamin E. Freeze of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol, Sgt. Ronald Canup of the Rockwell PD, Lt. Scott Duffell of the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Daniel Lancaster of the Salisbury PD, Michael Jeffrey File of the Spencer Police Department, and Major Bradley Whitaker of the VA Medical Center Police.
Lancaster was honored at least in part for his actions during a hostage situation at the Salisbury Harris Teeter grocery store in July of last year.
Cody Schimmels, was charged with going into the store, pulling a gun, then taking workers hostage.
“He was armed with a handgun and the things he was doing with the handgun indicated that we needed to take action," said Chief Jerry Stokes.
Sgt. Lancaster fired, striking Schimmels in the head and ending the situation.
“He was pointing a weapon at one of the hostages when the shot was taken," Chief Stokes added.
“It was a tough time for me and my family," said Sgt. Lancaster.
Subsequent investigations into the shooting determined that Sgt. Lancaster acted appropriately. Schimmels survived and is awaiting trial.
Lancaster said today he was grateful to be honored, but also grateful to have been given the training and tools to do the job that needed to be done.
“It’s what I’m trained for. I appreciate the City of Salisbury making sure I had that training and that equipment to keep our citizens safe," Lancaster said.
The highest award given annually at the event is the Paul G. Wilson Award. For 2019 that honor went to Captain Dedric Robinson of the North Carolina State Highway Patrol.
“It means the world, considering it’s the only award I’ve ever received in my entire career,” Robinson said. “We don’t do it for accolades, I do it for the men and women who work for the North Carolina State and more importantly the citizens of North Carolina, so this was just unexpected and it’s an honor to receive such an award in the place that I started my career.”
Robinson began his career as a trooper on the road in Rowan County in 1992. In 2001 he was promoted to Sergeant and began working in Winston-Salem. Three years later Robinson became a 1st Sgt. and moved to Raleigh, later returning to Winston-Salem. Robinson took over the NCSHP drug unit in 2005. Robinson was able to return to Salisbury after his promotion to Lieutenant. In 2012 Robinson became a Captain and moved to the NCSHP Hickory area. Robinson then became Major over NCSHP field operations. Robinson took a voluntary demotion to return to the local area as a Captain with the NCSHP in order to finish his career. Robinson will retire in September.