Richland County Sheriff’s Department recognizes top deputies, others in 2023

Multiple awards presented during annual banquet in mid-December

By W. Thomas Smith Jr.

Sheriff Leon Lott and the Richland County Sheriff’s Department presented scores of awards in multiple categories both to deputies and civilian employees of the Richland County Sheriff’s Department (RCSD) during the department’s annual Christmas Awards Banquet at Seawell’s, December 16, 2023.

Among the top-award recipients were Data Control Specialist Norma Ortiz who received RCSD’s Civilian of the Year Award For 2023, and Deputy Jacob Salrin, RCSD’s 2023 Deputy of the Year. Salrin’s award was presented posthumously and accepted by his sister Allie Salrin-Zammuto. Monetary gifts from the Richland County Sheriff’s Foundation accompanied each award.

Additional awards, monetary gifts, and recipients included RCSD’s Threat Suppression Award of Excellence (recipient Deputy Kalema Grant) presented by Sheriff Lott and Capt. Dominick Pagano, co-founder of the award, “in recognition of a deputy that exemplifies the word dedication to duty.” Also the Deputy Ryan Rawl Military Deputy of the Year award (Deputy Tony Jeong, recipient) was presented as were the Deputy Donnie Washington RCSD Athlete of the Year award (Deputy Frederick Boyce III, recipient), the Deputy Torrey Hollis/ Captain Joseph Pellicci Courage award (Master Deputy Jessica Perez, recipient), the Chaplain Terry Barrett Chaplain’s award (Deputy Brittany Jones, recipient), the Investigator Gary Cannon Great Attitude award (Investigator Cynnamon Clinton, recipient), the Celeste McDuffie Volunteer of the Year award (Carmen Hudson, recipient), the Marie Downie Family Association Person of the Year award (Sally Little, recipient), the Ashleigh Downie Explorer of the Year award (Walt Hollis, recipient), the Deputy Darral Lane Drug Enforcement award (Master Deputy Braylyn Salmond, recipient), the Lieutenant Mike Poole ‘Narc’ of the Year award (Investigator David Farr, recipient), and the Fargo K-9 Team award (Master Deputy Austyn Jeffcoat and K-9 Kiro, recipients).

Regional and sub-departmental Deputies of the Year, all of whom were candidates for RCSD Deputy of the Year, were also recognized including the late Deputy Salrin from Region 1, Deputy Nathan Rowley (Region 2), Deputy Nathan Poore (Region 3), Deputy Avery Arrington (Region 4), Master Deputy Charles Culp (Region 5), Deputy Matthew Smith (Region 6), Sergeant Gavin Walmsley (Region 7), and Master Deputy Norman Acevedo-Rivera (Region 8). At the sub-department or unit level were 10 recipients (candidates) including Sergeant Garo Brown (Civil Process/Warrants and Community Resources), Master Deputy Rafael Feliciano (Professional Development and Professional Standards), Master Deputy Cody Sox (Operations and Administration), Sergeant Joshua Robinson (Community Services), Master Deputy Jarvis Lessane (School Resource Officer/Youth Services Division), Senior Investigator David Farr (Investigations and Narcotics), Investigator Tucker Kovalchek (Forensics), Investigator Deena Levine (Victims Services and Major Crimes), Gary Peters (Reserve Deputy), and John Tempesco (Chaplains).

Several scholarships were also awarded and 16 RCSD retirees were recognized and presented plaques, watches, and Sheriff Leon Lott challenge coins.

“It’s important that we recognize and applaud the extraordinary work of these deputies and civilian employees both at the department level and the unit level,” said Lott. “We honor them in this way every year at our Christmas banquet and through our awards and decorations program wherein we recognize longevity and distinguished service during less-formal, but equally important PROACT [professionalism, accountability, coordination, and teamwork] meetings which are held each quarter.”

In addition to his many awards, honors, and decorations, Lott was the 2021 National Sheriff of the Year. He also holds the rank of major general, commanding the S.C. State Guard.

– Pictured is Allie Salrin-Zammuto accepting her late brother Deputy Jacob Salrin’s
Region 1 Deputy of the Year award from Sheriff Leon Lott. Deputy Salrin also received
the RCSD Deputy of the Year award (posthumously) which was accepted by his sister.

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