Officer, firefighter of year honored


By Chris Berendt - cberendt@civitasmedia.com



Clinton Police Detective Salah Ali O’Neil, flanked by Chief Jay Tilley and Mayor Lew Starling, accepts the 2016 Officer of the Year Award, his second time winning the honor — a first for the department.


Chris Berendt|Sampson Independent

Matthew Smith, far left, was selected as Clinton’s 2016 Firefighter of the Year, a recognition announced Tuesday night. He is standing with Fire Chief Scott Phillips and Mayor Lew Starling.


Chris Berendt|Sampson Independent

Two first responders were recognized Tuesday night for their efforts throughout 2016, with Clinton Police Detective Salah Ali O’Neil and Matthew Smith garnering Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year honors, respectively.

O’Neil accepted the 2016 Officer of the Year Award from Police Chief Jay Tilley and Mayor Lew Starling. It was O’Neil’s second time winning the honor, the first time that has happened at the department. O’Neil earned the distinction in 2008.

“This honor is given to the officer whose body of work best exemplifies the core values of the department — integrity, professionalism, respect and teamwork,” the chief said.

In his current capacity as fraud investigator for the Police Department’s Neighborhood Improvement Team, O’Neil investigates embezzlement, identify theft and flimflam cases among others, and is assigned some of the toughest cases the department sees, his chief noted.

“He mentors our young officers while maintaining a huge caseload,” Tilley said. “He even gets mad at me when we don’t call him to all the crimes, but that’s just Ali.”

He has served with the patrol division, as a housing officer and a school resource officer.

“He is truly the hardest-working man at the police department,” Tilley attested. “This award is determined by a committee of former officers who were selected Officer of the Year. They have strict standards and they are a stingy bunch about giving out this award.

“This is the first time we’ve had a second offense winner,” Tilley said to laughs.

Matthew Smith was selected as Clinton’s 2016 Firefighter of the Year, a recognition also announced Tuesday night and presented by Fire Chief Scott Phillips and Starling.

Phillips noted that the Firefighter of the Year is selected by their peers in a “secret ballot-type format.”

“He was not aware that he had been nominated and was chosen until our Christmas dinner that we had for the fire department,” said Phillips. “He has been associated with the Clinton Fire Department for five years and he’s been in the fire service for 10 years. He is well-deserving. He’s been a fixture of Clinton Fire Department and does an excellent job for us.”

Clinton Police Detective Salah Ali O’Neil, flanked by Chief Jay Tilley and Mayor Lew Starling, accepts the 2016 Officer of the Year Award, his second time winning the honor — a first for the department.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_Officer-of-Year.jpgClinton Police Detective Salah Ali O’Neil, flanked by Chief Jay Tilley and Mayor Lew Starling, accepts the 2016 Officer of the Year Award, his second time winning the honor — a first for the department. Chris Berendt|Sampson Independent

Matthew Smith, far left, was selected as Clinton’s 2016 Firefighter of the Year, a recognition announced Tuesday night. He is standing with Fire Chief Scott Phillips and Mayor Lew Starling.
http://www.clintonnc.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/web1_Firefighter-of-Year.jpgMatthew Smith, far left, was selected as Clinton’s 2016 Firefighter of the Year, a recognition announced Tuesday night. He is standing with Fire Chief Scott Phillips and Mayor Lew Starling. Chris Berendt|Sampson Independent

By Chris Berendt

cberendt@civitasmedia.com

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

Reach Managing Editor Chris Berendt at 910-249-4616. Follow the paper on twitter @SampsonInd and like us on Facebook.

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