Law enforcement officers recognized at Congressional Law Enforcement Awards

acastillo@bradenton.comMay 28, 2014 

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Florida Congressional District 13 Rep. Vern Buchanan. FILE PHOTO-GRANT JEFFERIES/Bradenton Herald

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SARASOTA -- A dozen officers from various law enforcement departments were honored Tuesday evening as part of the Congressional Law Enforcement Awards.

Rep. Vern Buchanan, R-Sarasota, presented the recipients with awards at the 5:30 p.m. ceremony in the County Commission Chambers at the Sarasota County Administration Building, 1660 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota. Certificates of recognition were given in categories covering everything from preservation of life to dedication and professionalism.

An independent panel of law enforcement officials chose the award recipients.

Winners included deputy Joseph Scott of the Manatee County Sheriff's Office, investigator John Morningstar of the Bradenton Police Department, task force officer Michael Skoumal of the Bradenton Police Department and detective Joseph Rogers of the Palmetto Police Department.

All officers already have previous awards for excellence in their field.

"I think they do an outstanding job in our communities," Buchanan said. "I don't think we do enough to recognize their commitment."

Buchanan said the Congressional Law Enforcement Awards recognize the "best of the best."

Buchanan mentioned Scott, one of the night's Preservation of Life Award recipients. On April 17, 2013, Scott rescued a 7-year-old girl from drowning in a Bradenton swimming pool.

The 48-year-old has already been named the 2013 Deputy of the Year by Sheriff Brad Steube and Officer of the Year by the Manatee County Hundred Club.

"He was off duty and she probably would have drowned... He saved a little girl's life," Buchanan said. "I think that's the kind of additional effort and commitment that we're trying to recognize."

Longboat Key Police Chief Pete Cumming said he was present to watch Sgt. Randy Thompson receive the Above & Beyond the Call of Duty Award.

"He's clearly someone we're very proud of," Cumming said of Thompson, who has been with the department nearly 20 years and was promoted to sergeant in 2013. "Randy Thompson is consistently one of my best officers. This incident he's receiving the award for is certainly not the only thing this sergeant has done that I feel proud of."

On Dec. 12, 2013, Thompson was the first officer at a 911 call of a man brandishing a firearm in a residential community.

"Neighbors had called and said that this individual was obviously intoxicated... that he was loud and profane and they were all in fear that he was going to start shooting," Cumming said.

Thompson was able to take the suspect into custody and seized a .357 Derringer from his pocket -- without firing a shot.

Rogers received the Dedication and Professionalism Award. The 44-year-old detective mentioned a case involving a man accused of child molestation, which will be heading to trial, as one of his most gratifying.

Being recognized Tuesday was a great honor, he said.

"Not everyone gets them and I know there was a voting process so I'm just amazed to even have received it," Rogers said. "I'm very honored."

-- Kate Irby contributed to this report.

Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo.

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