A handful of officers in the NOPD’s Second District were honored as “the best of the best” this week with awards handed out by an Uptown-based group of citizens who support the district.
In a ceremony at Touro Infirmary — the longtime location of the Second District’s public meetings — Commander Paul Noel described the qualities that defined the three top award winners:
- Officer of the Year Nancy Parker: “Not only is she a very, very hard worker, she has one of the best attitudes in the Second District,” Noel said.
- Supervisor of the year, Sgt. Jennifer Dupree, who led a task force that increased the number of gun and drug arrests in the district: “While the officers did a great job, leadership in the field is what led to our officers doing a great job,” Noel said.
- Investigator of the year, Detective Nathan McGhee, whom Noel praised as having “job knowledge superior to most” but who suffered a severe stroke in mid-2012 that still has him on medical leave: In the hospital after the stroke, Noel said, “the first thing Nathan wanted to talk about was the cases he had open.”
A number of miscellaneous awards were handed out as well. Officer Evan Walvoord was given the “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick Award,” an honor Noel said he himself received when he was a Second District patrol officer. Officer Damien Gaines was named the “Best Platoon Officer,” an award specifically for a uniformed officer. Officer Robert Ponson received the “Commitment to Service Award,” which Noel said was specifically for skill in “selling the stop,” or explaining to people why he makes the decision he does. And, finally, LaCrecia Taylor was voted by the officers of the district as the “Best Dispatcher,” with Noel noting that “a dispatcher can make or break an officer’s day.”
The awards are sponsored by COPS 2, the Citizens Organization for Police Support in the Second District, which uses the Magazine Street Blues Festival as its major annual fundraiser. COPS 2 fills in the gaps in the district’s funding in many ways throughout the year, Noel said. Over the last year, the group has paid for renovations at the Second District station, they feed officers at the station during major events that require 12-hour shifts, and they have bought items like computers for the detectives and scooters for the Magazine Street patrol officers. They also pay for completely anonymous counseling for any Second District officer who needs it for any reason.
Every year at Mardi Gras, COPS 2 gives each Second District officer a gift certificate to help defray the hundreds of dollars they have to spend on uniforms. And this year, Noel said, COPS 2 is starting a new program to pay for out-of-state training opportunities for Second District officers that the NOPD does not fund.
“We could not do any of that without COPS 2,” Noel said.
At the close of the ceremony, COPS 2 President Trish Clay said she believes strong leadership in the district is making a difference.
“I think the word’s getting out,” Clay said. “People are starting to have some good stories to tell about the police.”
COPS 2 actually gives out a quarterly Tommy Parker award to an officer, supervisor and investigator, and it was from those that Parker, Dupree and McGhee were selected. Other 2012 award winners included Officer Nahlisha Smith, Detective Patrick Conaghan and Sgt. Byron Francois (first quarter); Parker, Jon-Rene Sanjuro and Sgt. Robert Kirton (second quarter); Gaines, Detective Guy Swalm and Sgt. Dupree (third quarter); and Paul Dimitri, Jerry Devorak and Sgt. Warren Keller (fourth quarter).
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The NOPD Sixth District, which spans from Napoleon Avenue through the Garden District and Central City, does not have a support organization similar to COPS 2. In December, however, the Coliseum Square Association gave its annual award to Detective Corliss Conway, who joined the Sixth District as a nightwatch officer in 1999, became a detective two years later and now trains other investigators.
“Detective Corliss Conway is a mainstay in the Sixth District criminal investigations and a model for which others should strive to be,” said Sixth District Commander Bob Bardy. “She is most deserving of this recognition.”