Gwinn, Speed saluted at banquet

Oct. 03, 2013 @ 10:19 PM

The 18th installment of the Henderson-Vance Crime Stoppers Awards and Recognition Banquet Thursday night brought uniformed service members and civilian advocates together for a rally-like atmosphere of more than 300.

Two top law enforcement offices and an 8-year-old girl received standing ovations for their awards. The highest accolades went to officer and deputy dedication to protecting lives and property in Henderson and Vance County.

In all, nine received honors. Civilians were honored in areas of community watch activism, local citizenship, public service, corporate support, business advocacy, board leadership and a special recognition.

Rev. Frank Sossamon, the chairman of Crime Stoppers, said the focus of the annual banquet is to make a noisy celebration happen so it echoes on to encourage more cooperation in the fight against crime.

“This is not so much a fundraiser as it is an event to bring the community together to celebrate the accomplishments of individuals and organizations that support crime prevention in Vance County and Henderson, businesses, individuals and law enforcement officers,” Sossamon said. “This becomes a celebration of that partnership.”

Capt. Perry Twisdale of the Henderson Police Department presented the Sam Pearson Memorial Law Enforcement Award to Sgt. Joseph Gwinn, calling him a career law enforcer. Gwinn, Twisdale said, has extensive service from corrections work that included tracking escaped convicts to patrol, and more recently training others.

Twisdale said the work of the Henderson police will always depend on a supportive community being there for policemen like Gwinn.

“Law enforcement does not do this job alone, it never has,” Twisdale said. “It depends on the community together, working to make our neighborhoods safe.”

Sheriff Peter White presented the Tom Long Memorial Award to deputy John Williams Speed II. White said Speed makes supreme dedication in an unsung area of law enforcement that impacts many people’s property rights much more than most may realize until it happens to them.

“We call him our litter officer,” White said. “He never complains about how hot it is or how cold it is. He is responsible for cleaning up literally tons of litter illegally dumped on people’s property.”

White said the partnership against crime includes small details too: if something doesn’t look right, call it in.

“When we catch people in the act, it is because somebody took the initiative and made a phone call,” White said.

The awards memorialize Sam Pearson and Tom Long, two of the co-founders of the Henderson-Vance Crime Stoppers organization.

Thursday night’s banquet also honored community members and business owners who work to uphold Crime Stoppers’ mission of working together to help prevent and solve crimes in communities and schools.

Civilian award recipients included:

• Community Watch Award: Reginald Shearin, Flint Hill Community Watch.

• Local Citizens Award: Joel Rice, for his career with Five County Mental Health, work with handicapped services and volunteer help at the men’s shelter.

• Public Service Award: Superior Court Judge Henry W. Hight Jr., 9th Judicial District.

• Corporate Award: Walmart Distribution Center No. 6091 Volunteering Always Pays (VAP) program.

• Business Award: Carolina Country Snacks.

• Crime Stoppers Board Member of the Year: Billy Ford.

• Special Recognition Award: Isabelle Rosario-Iwanski, an 8-year-old accepted as an honorary Crime Stoppers member.

• Support recognitions: West Hills Veterinary Center, South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church, Men’s Ministry at South Henderson Pentecostal Holiness Church, The Daily Dispatch, WIZS-1450 AM, Home Credit Inc., Screen Master, Franklin Brothers Nursery & Greenhouse, P&G Pet Care, Duke Energy Progress, CenturyLink, Sam’s Furniture, Quick Print, Chick-fil-A of Henderson, Moody Brothers Jewelers and Golden Corral Family Steakhouse.


Contact the writer at