At its fourth annual Recognition of Law Enforcement program on June 15 at the Applewood House of Pancakes, the South Strand Optimist Club honored police officers for their work with children and youth. Some officers were on vacation or working and could not be at the event.
The honorees are Sergeant Robert Butler of the Horry County Sheriff’s Department/J. Reuben Long Detention Center, Caitlin Elliott, law enforcement victim advocate with the Georgetown Sheriff’s Department, Investigator Johnny Fairfield of the Pawleys Island Police Department, Patrolman First Class Wilson “Willie” James of the Surfside Police Department, Officer Teresa Walker of the City of Georgetown Police Department and Sergeant Justin Wyatt or the Horry County Police Department South Precinct.
Sergeant Wyatt was nominated by Captain Jason Freer for his annual efforts with the Shop with a Cop program, in addition to his duties as a patrol sergeant.
Each Christmas season, Horry County police officers work with school counselors to identify at least 100 children that might not get anything for Christmas and take them shopping at Walmart, giving each child a $100 gift certificate to spend as they please, except for buying weapons, toy weapons or violent video games. The day is filled with fun and food for the kids, whose parents are invited to join them after shopping for lunch at a church or community center. “At the end of the day,” Freer wrote, “each child will go home with the items they purchased and a lifelong friendship they developed with an officer that day.”
They also go home with a turkey and all the fixings for Christmas dinner.
Sergeant Wyatt plans the event for the South Precinct, solicits donations for gift cards, transportation and everything that makes the program possible and successful, and he is the “catalyst” for the South Precinct to help change the lives of children and officers.
Elliott was nominated by Georgetown Sheriff Lane Cribb, who wrote that law enforcement victim advocates are on call 24/7 and are many times faced with crisis calls involving children who are victims of exposure to domestic violence, neglect, abuse and sexual abuse. Responding to these types of calls is never easy, Cribb wrote. “As an advocate, Mrs. Elliott is always there to afford emotional support for the child and the family that is affected and reaches out to community resources that will also provide an important service in building up and empowering the child through their recovery. Trauma is never an easy experience to overcome. However, having someone like Mrs. Elliott there to receive you with a warm smile and a comforting gesture really makes a difference to a child.”
Cribb wrote of numerous ways that Elliott helps children.
James was nominated by Surfside Interim Chief Kenneth Hofmann, who wrote that James is committed to enhancing the lives of youths. He coaches a youth travel baseball team and has coached youth in various leagues. In addition to many other things he does to help young people, he participates in the Horry County Sheriff’s Office’s SOAR program, aimed at helping wayward youths get back on the right path ad become community leaders.
Peggy Mishoe, email@example.com, 365-3885.