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Honorees deserve our thanks

Several individuals were singled out for special honors Thursday night at the Denton Police Department’s 16th annual appreciation banquet, and we thank them for their service to the community and the department.

Corey Padget, a patrol officer for five years, was named the Patrol Officer of the Year. Padget is considered one of the top DWI enforcement officers in the department, officials said.

Officer Virginia Nichols, who has served for 10 years as an investigator assigned to the crimes against children unit, was named the Special Assignment Officer of the Year. Nichols is also vice president of the Denton Police Officers Association.

Four other department awards were presented: Lt. Bobby Smith, Supervisor of the Year; Deiva McCarthy, Communications Officer of the Year; Mari Herrera, Civilian Employee of the Year; and George Wood, Volunteer of the Year.

In addition, Lt. Chris Summitt and Chief Lee Howell presented a life-saving award to Sgt. Vernell Dooley, above and beyond the call of duty awards to Officer Lucas Bailey and Officer Samy Sanchez and commendation bars to Officer Tony Fletcher and Officer Jason Hollingshead.

Another highlight of the evening was the presentation of a $10,000 check from the 100 Club of Denton, a nonprofit organization of area businesses and residents that supports Denton police officers. The check will help in the completion of the new Denton Public Safety Training Center.

Jayne Howell, president of the 100 Club and wife of the police chief, said the donation will help the police department add special features to the new training center that could not be funded with the existing budget.

“This is our largest donation given in one year,” Howell said. “The center will be widely used across the region and we wanted to make sure it was finished the way it should be.”

The nomination process for the awards starts with peer voting within the police department and then winners are ultimately decided by a board of directors, officials said.

“I am very honored,” Nichols said after receiving her award. “To be recognized by your fellow officers — there’s no higher honor than that.”

Howell told the crowd that no matter if it’s a shooting or helping someone with a flat tire on the side of the road, those working to serve and protect “are heroes every day.”

We couldn’t agree more, and we know that we join a grateful community in congratulating this year’s honorees.

Their jobs aren’t easy, but these individuals maintain high standards of performance day in and day out.

Thanks to each of them for helping to make Denton County a safer place to live and work.