City of Kannapolis Police Department Awards Presented


KANNAPOLIS, N.C. – The Kannapolis Police Department recently presented awards to four members of the department.

Officers Brandon Crowe and Gasper Ruiz, Jr. received Police Stars, the second highest honor any officer can receive.

Officer Donald Newton was presented with the Roger Dale Carter Memorial Service Award, given in memory of Kannapolis Police Officer Carter, who died in the line of duty on December 31, 1993.

Telecommunicator Shift Supervisor Heather Clay was awarded with the Norma C. Howard Memorial Service Award. Norma Howard was the first female civilian police employee in Kannapolis and was instrumental in establishing the records department.

Officers Brandon Crowe and Gasper Ruiz, Jr. received Police Stars for meritorious action above and beyond the call of duty.  Their exemplary actions, in the line of duty under unusually difficult and dangerous conditions, saved a person from serious injury or death.

This summer, Officers Crowe and Ruiz responded to the I-85 Lane Street bridge and found a man with his legs hanging over the bridge guardrail. It was obvious that the man was in mental distress.  Officer Ruiz was able to begin a dialogue with him, drawing his attention toward him. This allowed Officer Crowe to get close the man without being seen.  Officer Crowe was then able to grab the man, along with Officer Ruiz, and pull him back across the guardrail to safety.  Because of their quick and heroic action, the man was safely transported to the hospital for evaluation and care.

“The initiative and personal courage displayed by Officers Crowe and Ruiz on this occasion exemplifies the highest ideals of law enforcement and reflect great credit upon themselves and the Kannapolis Police Department,” said Kannapolis Police Chief Terry Spry. “They displayed unusual determination, valor, initiative, skill, selflessness, or professionalism in order to save a person who was under distress.”

The Norma C. Howard Memorial Service Award is presented annually to a civilian police department employee who conducts both their personal and professional lives in a manner that is consistent with the department’s values and code of ethics. Norma Howard was the first female and first full-time civilian employee of the Kannapolis Police Department and was instrumental in establishing the department’s records management system.

This year Heather Clay received the honor. She joined the department in 2006 and she was promoted to Telecommunication Shift Supervisor in 2011.  In addition to her duties as a shift supervisor she is also a field training officer.  “She is a great leader, who leads her shift by example, always holding herself and those around her to the highest of standards. She is always courteous and eager to assist when needed and an asset to our department,” Police Captain Justin Smith said.  She is married to Fire Battalion Chief Joshua Clay and they have a daughter, Carlee.

Annually, an officer is presented with the Roger Dale Carter Memorial Service Award. This year the honor goes to Officer Donald Newton who has been a member of the Kannapolis Police Department for five years.

During the presentation of the award numerous examples of his commitment to go above and beyond for the residents of Kannapolis were given. “He possesses an exceptional reputation for personal honesty and integrity that is beyond reproach. Officer Newton consistently does more than his fair share of work.  He follows up on investigations even after they are closed and makes connections within the community,” said Deputy Police Chief Daniel Wallace. “On multiple occasions he has assisted people who are actively dealing with mental breakdowns. We regularly have citizens calling into the center and requesting this officer due to the rapport he creates with them. He treats everyone with compassion and does everything in his power to ensure he can get people the help they need and leave them in a better place than when he first arrived on scene.”

Officer Newton was also cited for his quiet efforts to create camaraderie and teamwork with other officers. He regularly buys meals and hosts squad functions at his home. He and his wife, Michelle, have been married for 24 years and they have three children, Bradley, Josiah and Xander.  They are active members of Kannapolis Church of God where he is an elder.

Author: Margaret Beveridge