BUCKHANNON — Create Buckhannon presented its first community policing award at a recent luncheon.
Sgt. Mark Stewart, Prevention Resource Officer for Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, is the first recipient of the annual Jim Farrell Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award.
C.J. Rylands, executive director of Create Buckhannon and a city councilman, gave the award to Stewart who was selected after a nomination process.
The award criteria was published in The Record Delta giving the community the option to nominate a law enforcement officer.
Stewart first began his career with the Buckhannon Police Department in 1994 and graduated from the 88th Basic Police Academy that same year. He helped create the bicycle patrol and the citizen’s police academy. Since being hired by the department, Stewart also earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Marshall University. Stewart left the police department in 2003 but returned in 2005. Since then, Stewart completed additional training to become an investigator with the police department and helped create the Volunteers in Police Service Program. In 2016, Stewart became the prevention resource officer at BAES.
Rylands said, “We thought it was important to connect with the police department and to identify behaviors we think build trust and cohesion with the community.”
“Create Buckhannon in Cooperation with the Community: 2017 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year presented to Sgt. Mark Stewart for his devotion and duty through the development of community programs and initiatives,” Rylands read on the award. “He is recognized by the residents of Upshur County and the City of Buckhannon as a standard of law enforcement to be recognized and respected.”
Stewart also received a silver coin sold to support the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Washington, D.C.
The Jim Farrell Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award was voted to be named in honor of Farrell at the same meeting Stewart received the award. Farrell brainstormed the annual community policing recognition and developed the criteria for the award. Create Buckhannon will annually recognize an officer, deputy or trooper who performs tasks or acts in a professional manner to improve the quality of life in the community and create an atmosphere of two-way respect, according to the information that Farrell compiled. Farrell also donated commemorative coins for the first three years of the program.