awards

The 100 Club of Wharton County continued its tradition of honoring excellence in law enforcement during its annual banquet held last week in Wharton.

Among the awards presented were for Texas Department of Public Safety Troopers at the Pierce station.

Two individuals were named among the best that the DPS in Pierce has to offer. They were trooper Anthony “Tony” La Count, who earned Trooper of the Year award and Connie Cardenas, the Support Staff of the Year award.

Cardenas has been with DPS since 2007. In 12 years, she rose to the rank of Operator V.

“She is always pleasant whether answering troopers, other agencies or the Stranded Motorist Hotline.

“She has a very calm voice that puts you at ease,” DPS Lt. Matt Ochoa said, adding that Cardenas has adapted to the challenges of having two vacancies at Pierce Communication. “You have been willing to work extra shifts or trade shifts with other operators during this time.”

Sgt. Thomas Janek joined Ochoa to recognize LaCount for his efforts in combating criminal activity. Ochoa asked the audience to look past the more than 50 criminals who were arrested for violations outside of traffic law violations, and the recovering of seven stolen trailers.

“I do not feel that big numbers are the key indicator to show the value of a trooper’s dedication to his position,” Ochoa said. “I look for the professionalism and leadership offered by our troopers ... you cannot teach genuine leadership and integrity.”

Wharton PD

Sgt. Rashied Byrd earned the Officer of the Year award, four years after being hired by the department.

Lynch said Sgt. Byrd is one of the most professional and insightful people he has ever worked with. He worked his way through the WCJC Law Enforcement Academy after graduating from Alief Hastings High School.

“Even though he wasn’t in the military, he as a strong military demeanor about him. He developed into a strong leader,” Lynch said. “He has the potential to be … no, he is the future of our department.”

Courtney Barker Bobbitt earned Support Staff of the Year. For Lynch, he has watched Bobbitt grow from a child to a woman and boasted about how she will begin the police academy in the fall. Her work with WPD began a year and a half ago. Lynch said she always is willing to assist and steps up “without question” when needed.

Lynch said he would entertain the thought of having her join the rank of WPD upon graduating from a police academy.

Johnny Gonzales earned the Citizen of the Year award, which came a few months after stepping down from his commander duties with American Legion Post 87. Lynch said he opened up a secondary shelter for victims of Hurricane Harvey. Gonzales waited as Lynch read the numerous entities he is involved with, including veteran and WPD-related events. He has been married 44 years and is a Vietnam War veteran.

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