Hopewell police honored for extraordinary service
By Blake Belden, Staff Writer
Dec 23, 2013, 10:01
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Police Chief John Keohane embraced Officer James Barefoot and thanked him for all his hard work with the Hopewell Police Department up until his retirement.
HOPEWELL — Officer James Barefoot smiled from behind a thick, salt and pepper mustache while the members of the Hopewell Police Department and community offered a unanimous applause for his retirement after serving the city for more than 27 years, on Tuesday afternoon.
Barefoot, of Unit 253, expressed deep gratitude for the officers, friends and family who helped him get to where he is today, and that he now has a lifetime of memories from the Hopewell community.
“As I close another chapter of my life and put the book up on the shelf, I take another one down and open it full of blank pages of opportunities waiting to be filled. In the end, I won’t say goodbye, but rather farewell,” Barefoot said as he brushed the gold and black Pittsburgh Steelers tie dangling from his neck.
After Hopewell Police Chief John Keohane handed Barefoot a framed set of all the badges he earned during his tenure with the police department, he said that Barefoot’s sense of humor and contagious personality will be missed within the police department.
“He went out on top. ... He kept a positive attitude, and he worked to the last day,” Keohane said.
Police Chief John Keohane shakes Detective R.C. William’s hand while awarding him a Life Saving Award on Tuesday afternoon.
Barefoot’s retirement ceremony was part of a semi-annual recognition and awards program for outstanding service by members of the Hopewell Police Department that took place in the City Council Chambers on Tuesday, including four awards for officers who went above and beyond to save the lives of others.
On Oct. 5, officer Ryan Fitzsimons responded to a location in regards to a female who had made a phone call to the police in which she said she wished to commit suicide before hanging up. When Fitzsimons got to the scene, he found the caller holding a meat cleaver up against her throat warning that she would kill herself if anybody advanced closer to her. Through effective communication, Fitzsimons convinced the woman to put the meat cleaver down and be taken into emergency custody without any injuries to herself or any of the responding officers. Keohane said that Fitzsimons demonstrated remarkable utilization of crisis intervention techniques to swiftly establish a “rapport” with the suicidal woman and save her life.
On Oct. 16, Detective Robert C. Williams arrived on the scene of an accident where a driver had crashed his vehicle into a tree going 80 miles per hour in Farmingdale. The driver had become trapped inside his vehicle, bent over, breathing with difficulty and exhibiting a faint pulse. Williams crawled into the back of the vehicle to provide first aid treatment to the driver supporting his spine and opening up his airways while waiting for the fire department to arrive. After they arrived, Williams continued to remain in the backseat to support the driver’s neck and help him to regain consciousness while the fire department removed him from the vehicle.
On Oct. 29, officers Robert Stamper and Cathie Mitchell responded to the Hopewell Marina for a call of trespassing, when they came upon a woman who was unable to speak and gesturing in sign language. The woman then jumped into the Appomattox River, after which she began drifting off down the river. She drifted about 25 feet off the shore line and started sinking beneath the water. Both Stamper and Mitchell proceeded to jump into the cold river after her, where they were able to bring her back to shore ultimately rescuing her life.
BLAKE BELDEN/HOPEWELL NEWS/NEWS-PATRIOT Officers received awards for excellent service at the semi-annual awards and recognition ceremony on Tuesday.
Many other awards were handed out during the ceremony, including an outstanding achievement award for the B Platoon, 2nd Squad, whose work led to the arrest of a neighborhood base gang member who shot a victim through the front door of his residence, allowing for a safer community and city school system.
For Keohane, having staff that risk their lives on a daily basis “means the world” to him, and he feels that their dedicated services deserve greater recognition.
“A lot of great work is going on with the Hopewell Police Department for the city of Hopewell and I just want to make sure the citizens know that we’re there for them and we put our lives on the line each and every day for them,” Keohane said.
Patrol Captain Mike Whittington said that the department is a strong family committed to not only the community, but also to each other.
“We have to depend on each other, each one of us every day. ... You are my family and I love you all,” Whittington verbalized to his fellow officers and staff during his closing remarks.
Having originally been an annual event, the police department decided to make the awards ceremony a semi-annual event to give officers their due credit.
“Let’s face it. There’s just too many awards. ... I’d hate to wait a whole year to showcase all this great work that has gone on since May 2013,” Keohane said.