LEXINGTON, S.C. – The Lexington County Sheriff’s Foundation has honored 12 members of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department.

“We’re grateful for the support and resources the foundation provides to assist us in fulfilling our mission of serving and protecting the people of Lexington County,” Sheriff Jay Koon said. “Through its annual awards banquet, the foundation highlights its commitment to preserve the professional standards of our department.”

Koon said the foundation also provides funding for equipment, training and other supplies to assist deputies and correctional officers in carrying out their duties.

The foundation recently presented the following awards at its annual awards banquet:

Deputy of the year: Howard Smith

Smith was recognized for his work in serving arrest warrants and enforcing traffic laws. IN addition to significant drug-related arrests, Smith made critical contributions toward solving three burglary cases, leading to the arrest of multiple suspects and the recovery of stolen property.

Investigator of the year: Time Parcheta

Parcheta serves in the Sheriff’s Department’s victim assistance unit, where he he provides victim services for those categorized as vulnerable adults. He educates victim family members to make sure they are aware of problems and to ensure victims receive the best care and treatment possible. If the need arises, Parcheta works jointly with the South Carolina Department of Social Services to have victims placed in care facilities.

First-line supervisor of the year: Kevin Steele

Steele was recognized for his work as an effective leader and his ability to handle any situation he encounters as a shift sergeant. During 2019, Steele led his shift through hundreds of calls for service and was instrumental in keeping shift members motivated and focused. When Steele is working, his supervisors enjoy a sense of comfort because they know he is able and willing to handle any situation that comes his way, according to his nomination.

Correctional officer of the year: Dexter Short

Short was honored for an unrivaled attitude toward his work and selflessness in his work ethic. According to his supervisor, Short works any assigned area, without question, and enthusiastically accepts every task given to him. Dexter’s pride in his work and his reputation as a team player reflect great credit upon himself and uphold the mission and vision of the Lexington County Sheriff’s Department, according to his nomination. 

School resource officer of the year: Kevin O’Dell

O’Dell demonstrated his willingness to put the welfare of others above his own safety during a 2019 incident. Through his actions, he prevented the serious injury or death, not only of a suicidal man, but also of drivers traveling on I-26 while the man threatened to jump from an overpass, according to his nomination. According to his supervisor, O’Dell embodies the quiet strength and reliability upon which public service is built

Community service employee of the year: Kristy Williams

Williams was recognized for her work in helping a Swansea-area resident resolve a case involving significant trash accumulation violations that had been going on for years. Williams’ involvement in the case, through two citations and three separate court hearings, led to the eventual clean-up of the property. She also recently completed a service to clear roadway trash on a nine-mile stretch of Highway 6.

Civilian employee of the year: Sherri Dearing-Backman

In her role as a victim assistance coordinator, Dearing-Backman reviewed more than 8,000 cases and offered direct victim services in an additional 1,155 cases. As part of her work on the cases, Dearing-Backman either directly spoke with victims on the phone, met with them in person or mailed them a letter offering victim services. Dearing-Backman also participated in efforts to fully furnish a new apartment for a victim and the victim’s family, according to her nomination.

Reserve deputy of the year: Jody Hart

Hart’s tenure as a reserve deputy lasted almost 13 years. Hart concentrated his efforts with the LCSD K-9 team, and his commitment to the team was unwavering. He provided thousands of volunteer hours to assist with training and shift work. His dedication, knowledge and love of the job were infectious to his peers and made an immediate and lasting impact to both the K-9 team and the Reserve Deputy Division.

Brian S. Mills Distinguished First-Year Officer Award: Joseph Staley

Staley was recognized for his effort in saving a woman from jumping off an I-26 overpass during a mental health call for service. The bravery, determination, and commitment to duty he demonstrated in this incident is consistent with the finest traditions of law enforcement service, and are especially impressive given his level of experience, according to his nomination. Staley’s supervisor says he is reliable, always willing to help, and well on his way to developing the core competencies required of an outstanding patrol deputy.

Volunteer of the year: Lawrence Markey

Markey is an advanced state constable who serves his community and assists the Sheriff’s Department by maintaining public safety and enhancing officer safety. Markey logged more than 1,700 hours of volunteer time supplementing patrol shifts, working nearly every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday last year. In addition to his field work, Markey organized thousands of pieces of evidence and led a group that overhauled a portion of the Sheriff’s’ Department’s evidence storage facility.

Explorer of the year: John Michael Hanks

Hanks started as an Law Enforcement Explorer in Post #106 at the Sheriff’s Department in August 2017. Since joining the program, he has become a mentor to his peers demonstrating his knowledge, integrity, and desire to better himself as a leader. Hanks is also an asset to the agency and our community, providing hundreds of hours of community service at neighborhood events and public gatherings.

Foundation Award: Thomas Hamilton

Hamilton has spent numerous hours planning and providing logistical support to Foundation events – including its annual awards banquet and other key fundraising events such as the Jailbreak 5K and the Jailbreak Escape Urban Challenge Run. His efforts have helped educate thousands of members of the public as to the foundation’s mission and the capabilities of the Sheriff’s Department in fighting crime, while also making foundation events engaging and enjoyable.