A local firefighter and police officer were selected by their coworkers and honored Tuesday with the help of the Rocky Mount Luncheon Lions Club.
Rocky Mount police Cpl. James Duncan and fire Capt. Michael Strange were selected respectively as the police officer and firefighter of the year for 2012. The respective chiefs for both Duncan and Strange, who have worked for the city about 10 years, said the men each had a willingness to go above and beyond the call of duty.
“He often goes the extra step in helping change a tire or give a few dollars to a homeless person, so they’ll have a place to stay for the night,” Police Chief James Moore said. “He demonstrates a caring heart for his fellow officers by being a mechanic by trade and volunteering his time and talent to assist his coworkers with a need they may have.”
Moore said he frequently sees Duncan on the weekends working on maintaining the department’s cars.
“Every occasion I meet him, he is always gleeful,” Moore said. “He doesn’t just speak to me either, he always engages me in a conversation. I think he is well-deserving of the award and he will represent the department well.”
Police department staff also selected Cekeithia Blakney as the civilian of the year and Ebony Lyons as the telecommunicator of the year. Both will get special parking spots for the year along with Duncan and their pictures in the lobby of the station.
Duncan thanked his coworkers and supervisors, but said the honor really lies with his wife, Desiree.
“My wife was the pushing force behind me coming to work here,” Duncan said with tears in his eyes. “I owe all of this to her.”
Strange split the care of his month-old son, Myles, with his wife Elizabeth throughout the ceremony. Like Duncan, he said the love and support of his wife has been instrumental to his career.
“Without her, I wouldn’t be half the firefighter and man I am,” Strange said.
Fire Chief Trey Mayo said Strange’s leadership as a shift captain is obvious in his crew and exemplifies his love for the department and the community.
“The company officer is the lynch pin that holds the fire department together,” Mayo said. “They have the closest contact with the personnel and can identify and address issues when they arise rather than passing those up the chain of command. Strange has a very key role in the department as that first line supervisor.”
City Manager Charles Penny said having people from the community recognize the sacrifices of city employees means a lot.
“Every year I have looked forward to see who accepts this award,” Strange said. “I feel honored and blessed to be a part of those dedicated members of our department.”