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Locust officer Dietz receives first Chief Steven “Smitty” Smith Officer of the Year award

With a packed crowd Thursday night inside the Joel Honeycutt Community Room, including most of the police force, Chief Jeff Shew handed out the inaugural Chief Steven “Smitty” Smith Officer of the Year award.

The award, which was named after the beloved former police chief who died last year, was based on a combination of factors including officers’ statistics (arrests, incidence clearance rate, etc.), how many times they were named officer of the month and their impact on the general community.

Shew presented the award to Cpl. Dwayne Dietz, who has been with the department since 2012 and was nominated by numerous officers within the department. Aside from being named officer of the month four times, which led the department, he ranked first overall for incidence clearance for 2020, including a 97 percent clearance of confirmed criminal incidents, and had the most arrests for the year with 119.

Shew also emphasized how Dietz always goes out of his way to help others. Last month, for example, he helped organize a community fundraising effort to purchase a new scooter for a teenager who recently had his stolen. Dietz presented the scooter to the young man and his family a few days before Christmas at City Hall.

“Corporal Dietz has never stopped putting on the Locust uniform and showing up to do his duty, always working hard with the unwavering desire to protect the city of Locust and serve its citizens,” Shew said, noting that Dietz was best friends with Chief Smith.

Mayor Steve Huber, a retired police lieutenant with Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police, had high praise for Dietz.

“When it comes to street cops, Dietz is in the top three street cops that I’ve ever been associated with. He is unbelievable,” Huber said.

The other two finalists for the award were detective Karcin Vick-Dunn, who’s been with the department since 2019 and was named officer of the month in March, and officer Robert Godek, who has been with the department since 2018 and was named officer of the month three times. They were both nominated for the award by Dietz.

Officer Derek Yang, who has been with the department since last January, received the Rookie Officer of the Year award. He ranked fourth in the department for arrests last year and was named officer of the month in June.

“Officer Yang always approaches our profession with a smile on his face and an extremely positive attitude,” Shew said. “He does his job with courtesy and humility and he always does his job the right and honorable way.”

2020 was a trying year not just for LPD with the unexpected loss of Chief Smith but for law enforcement in the region, with the murder of two officers, including a young man with the Concord Police just last month.

“I just want to tell you how proud I am of every single one of you,” Shew told his fellow officers. “For what we went through last year and for you to still come out and work and kick butt every single day and do the job the right way, I cannot tell you how proud I am of you guys.”

The council also offered its praise of the police department.

“It’s the best police department in the state as far as I’m concerned,” Councilman Harry Fletcher said.

About Chris Miller

Chris Miller has been with the SNAP since January 2019. He is a graduate of NC State and received his Master's in Journalism from the University of Maryland. He previously wrote for the Capital News Service in Annapolis, where many of his stories on immigration and culture were published in national papers via the AP wire.

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