2022 Hometown Hero Nominations

William Toney – Nash County Sheriff’s Office

Deputy William Toney, along with Deputy Shelby Smith (who we recognized last year), stopped a dangerous felon in Nash County, North Carolina. During the law enforcement encounter the suspect began to struggle with both deputies and he fired his firearm 4-5 times at each officer. Deputy Toney was struck several times. Both deputies were able to stay in the fight and save each other’s lives. They were able to maintain composure, under pressure, and rely on their training. Deputy Toney has fought to come back to active duty however his injuries he sustained that day prevents him from continuing his passion to serve others.

Bryan Corey – Edgecombe County Sheriff’s Office

Lt. Corey goes well above and beyond in serving his community. He is always available when called upon and has served in many capacities during his tenure at the Sheriff’s Office and leads those under his command by example.

Jeffrey Cairns – Rocky Mount Police Department

Corporal Cairns is an 18 year veteran of the Rocky Mount Police Department. He is a dedicated public servant and is committed to keeping his community safe. Corporal Cairns often volunteers his own time and money to assist citizens in need whenever he is able to.. an example being when he escorted a stranded young mother and child to a hotel and purchased a room for them to stay for the night. Cairns is a department leader and goes above and beyond his call of duty to assist others when he can.

Jacob Leonard- North Carolina State Highway Patrol

Jacob Leonard has been a Trooper since 2019. He has been an active paramedic since 2018 and still works part time with Nash County EMS and volunteers at Red Oak Fire Department on his days off. He is also a member of the North Carolina Highway Patrol Honor Guard.

Ethan Strickland- Rocky Mount Fire Department

Firefighter Ethan Strickland has been described by supervisors as “excelling in everything sine day one of coming on shift.” He has taken a very proactive leadership role in the Rocky Mount Fire radio program. He was recently promoted to Senior Firefighter and has become a member of the Fleet Planning Committee which assists with purchasing new fire apparatus. He is very active in his community as a volunteer firefighter and was chosen as Rocky Mount Fire Department Firefighter of the year as chosen by his co-workers.

Cynthia Figueroa- Jacksonville Police Department

Cynthia retired as a NYPD officer; she selflessly served her entire time helping the people of that community. She was one of the first to respond to 9/11, and since she has dealt with chronical medical problems related to the incident. After retiring Cynthia relocated and serves as a PSO/Victim Advocate.

Staci Leyble- Jacksonville Police Department

Lt. Leyble has been a police officer for over 26 years and has helped many people throughout her career. After a few years with the Jacksonville Police Department, she was assigned to the special operation division where she made numerous large drug cases. She was promoted to Sergeant over the criminal investigation division and later Lieutenant. She has dedicated her life to serving others.

Anthony Ramirez- Jacksonville Police Department

Sgt. Ramirez shows ongoing initiative, leadership and dedication to the police department and his division.

Hector Reyes- Jacksonville Police Department

Detective Hector Reyes takes on many roles such as Police Training Officer, SWAT, translator, and recently Detective. Hector always goes above and beyond to help his fellow teammates out. Hector has an infectious personality that brings a lighthearted feeling to a very stressful job.

Stephanie Monroe- Onslow County Dispatch

Stephanie Monroe always gives tremendous help to her community as a 911 telecommunicator. Stephanie has a natural talent for calming the callers down, so she can dispatch out the appropriate first responders in a hurry. Stephanie very much enjoys her job and often volunteers for overtime shifts.

Eddie Lovingood- Gastonia Police Department

Detective Eddie Lovingood’ s current assignment is that of the ABC Officer for the City of Gastonia. He oversees 269 alcohol-permitted businesses inside the city limits of Gastonia. He has been heavily involved in setting up and implementing the new social district in downtown Gastonia and is currently holding training sessions for the participating businesses. In 2022, he conducted more than 31 undercover underage investigations involving vape shops and convenience stores that supply vape products. Detective Lovingood created a presentation about the dangers of underage vaping and has presented it to area schools and places of worship in Gaston and Cleveland counties. He brings true professional attributes to the Gastonia Police Department and genuinely cares about delivering the best service to his community.

Jeffrey Thompson- Gaston County Police Department

Officer Jeffrey Thompson is a school resource officer assigned to Bessemer City High School. Over the last two years Officer Thompson has used the relationships he has developed with students and staff to spearhead donation drives geared towards helping the less fortunate with one donation collecting over $2,000 worth of school supplies. He also started the “Impact Club” with gives student the opportunity to get involved with their local community in acts such as a blanket drive.

Leon Matthews- Gastonia Fire Department

Engineer Matthews has demonstrated an exemplary work ethic and an unwavering positive attitude toward both fellow firefighters and the community. He has taken the initiative to fix minor issues with the equipment that would otherwise take an apparatus out of service allowing apparatus to stay in service so that the Fire Department's response is at its best. He is a tremendous asset to the entire department and a meritorious candidate for the firefighter of the year award because of his willingness to gain knowledge and fill in the different roles to make the department a better place to work.

Wayne Massagee- Gaston County EMS

Wayne Massagee began volunteering at Bessemer City Rescue Squad in 1977 and served as Chief from 1979 to 2002. Wayne lost his wife and GEMS Lieutenant Melanie to Covid early this year. Wayne continues to volunteer and helps teach new EMR and EMT students at GEMS.

Down East Fire Department, U.S. Coast Guard, Carteret County Emergency Services, Carteret County Sheriff’s Office

In addition to their day in and day out services to Carteret County and surrounding areas, these agencies are being recognized for their response to the Feb. 13 plane crash that took place near Atlantic where all passengers on board were fatally injured.

This accident had an especially devastating toll on Eastern NC, as 6 of the passengers were from Down East Carteret County.

Richard Palmer- Wake County Sheriff’s Office

Richard Palmer is a selfless, quick to respond, and constantly shoes bravery an example being when he drug the body of his wounded Sgt. out of harm’s way.

Ronelle Hinton- Durham Police Department

Lieutenant Hinton was assigned to the Recruiting Unit when she recognized the need to increase the number of women in law enforcement organizations. She sought out the 30X30 campaign, which is geared to increase the number of women in law enforcement organizations to 30% by the year 2030. Lieutenant Hinton implemented the campaign throughout the Durham Police Department. The national average for women in law enforcement was 12% when this campaign was started. Durham Police Department began this pledge at 16%, and they strive to reach the 30% by the year 2030.

Dan Havens- Cary Fire Department

Dan Havens took on the project of making a training trailer for the whole department to use. He worked extremely hard to get this project completed in a very short time frame so new fire fighters would be able to use it for learning. The trailer will be used by the whole department to keep personnel up to date on their skills. Dan used the opportunity to reach out to different firefighters for collaboration. Each contact point made the next person feel more involved and the project got more robust and imaginative. In the end, the project was the result of many minds and backs but of a single vision.

Brittany King- Greensboro Fire Department

Camp Spark is a Greensboro Fire Department program designed to introduce young women (grades 9 – 12) to the fire service community and industry. The fire service is a primarily male-dominated industry. To change the forecast of this issue, firefighter Brittany King brought the idea of Camp Spark to the Greensboro Fire Department and the Greensboro community. By having a week-long camp dedicated to the representation of females, it offers new perspective to young women in the community that there is no ceiling or limitation to what they can do.

Campers are welcomed to the training grounds and then asked to participate in activities that both male and female firefighters do every day.

One of the goals of Camp Spark is for campers to consider the fire service as a career, and in turn, improve the diversity of the fire department. However, the main goal is for our campers to learn how capable they really are and leave our program with the confidence that they can accomplish any goal or dream.

Jeffery Knight- Guilford County EMS

Jeff has been a paramedic for 30 years, and he continues to come to work with the most positive attitude and works endlessly to keep his fellow providers motivated during difficult times. Jeff is a field training officer here at GCEMS and is responsible for training new employees. He is constantly working in the field, and the classroom to start the education of future providers and continue the education of current paramedic and EMT providers across the county. Anyone who works with Jeff knows he is always available, on duty and off.

Jeri Phillips- Guilford Metro 911

Jeri Phillips has worked with GM911 since 2015 and has worked her way up to Master Telecommunicator and Certified Training Officer (CTO). She volunteers her time teaching the English language. In 2021, when the City of Greensboro received news that refugees from Afghanistan would be moving here, she headed up an effort to collect money, clothing, and household goods to assist them in their transition. She also volunteered to meet with refugees to teach the basics of 9-1-1. Her work helped our new neighbors to feel more comfortable in our community and know what to do in case of an emergency. Because of this work she was honored by receiving the 2021 American Red Cross Salute to Heroes Award.

Evan Brewer- Wilson Police Department

Detective Brewer has been employed with the Wilson Police Department for approximately 5 years. Detective Brewer has investigated well over 200 cases and solved a 2002 cold case where the victim was raped. He is an exemplary employee, displaying his dedication to the citizens and youth of Wilson. He single handily put together the first PAL Bowling Tournament which efforts raised $3000 to be used for underprivileged youth.

David J. Reid- North Carolina State Highway Patrol

Trooper Reid is a member of the North Carolina Highway Patrol’s Collision Reconstruction Unit. His dedication to his community is exhibited through his continuous dedication to his profession of collision reconstruction. On September 1, 2022 a driver pled guilty to five (5) counts of second-degree murder in Mecklenburg County Superior Court. That plea stemmed from a traffic crash where the driver caused a collision that killed five (5) people in two separate vehicles. The guilty plea was a direct result of Trooper Reid’s tireless investigation into the collision.

Justin Arnette- North Carolina State Highway Patrol

Trooper Arnette as a member of the State Highway Patrol’s Collision Reconstruction Unit, has displayed ongoing dedication in the field of crash investigation, developing highly technical skills that allow him to secure criminal charges and convictions against suspects in highway crashes.  Most notably, Trooper Arnette has led the ongoing investigation surrounding the tragic death of Knightdale Officer, Ryan Hayworth, who was killed in the line of duty by an impaired driver.  Trooper Arnette’s diligent work in this critical investigation will hopefully result in justice delivered for Officer Hayworth.

Jim Bolin- Millers Creek Volunteer Fire Department

Jim is a very important part of the Millers Creek Volunteer FD. He has been a member of the department since 1982. Although he does not fight fire anymore, he is a driver/engineer for the department. 24 hours a day Jim can always be counted on to drive and operate fire apparatus on calls and help train our up coming firefighters and new members.

Daniel Holmes- Lee County Sheriff’s Office

While affecting an arrest of a suspect, Sergeant Daniel Holmes was shot while he was in the line of duty. Thankfully, Sergeant Holmes Ballistic Vest saved his life. His community is grateful for the immense valor he showed!

Darin Smith- Lee County Sheriff’s Office

While answering a call for service in reference to a domestic assault, Lt. Smith was shot by a suspect which subsequently evolved into an hours-long negotiation and standoff. Lt. Smith did suffer minor injuries during this incident.

Brett Kain- Town of Fuquay-Varina Police Department

Det. Kain has served his department since 2012 and currently serves the criminal investigations division. Their team has been consistently impressed by his positive attitude, performance duties, and willingness to help anyone at moment’s notice. Det. Kain exemplifies core values of fairness, vigilance, professionalism, and dedication, and he displays leadership daily. He also helps lead the cadet program, teaching youth about a day in the life of a law enforcement with topics he puts together and presents.

Sierra Lee- Harnett County 911 Dispatch

On February 17th, Sierra Lee received a 911 call from Ms. Walden when her 37-day old son Richie was not breathing. Sierra obtained all the necessary information to send emergency responders. Sierra used her training and skills to instruct hot to properly administer CPR to the infant, staying calm and reassuring during the six-minute call. Richie was hospitalized for 2 weeks. When Richie was discharged from the hospital, Ms. Walden brought him to the 911 center to meet Sierra.

Jeff Penny- Angier and Black River Volunteer Fire Department

Captain Penny does so much behind the scenes. Apart from being a consistent nighttime responder, Jeff serves on two department committees and chairs one of them. These require hours of outreach communicating with many people. But nobody really knows all that Jeff does, because he never complains. Working in the Morale Committee, Jeff does at least 85% of the work. Any department function, whether or not it involves fighting a fire, Jeff is right there in the thick of it.

Steven Parrish- North Carolina State Highway Patrol

On August 11, 2022, Trooper Parrish was directly involved in a vehicle pursuit of an Amber Alert suspect and juvenile victim in Troop C, District 3 (Raleigh). Trooper Parrish’s actions resulted in the safe rescue of the juvenile victim and capture of the suspect.

Daniel Falcon- Town of Fuquay-Varina Fire Department

When a residential structure caught fire in the Ballentine community off Sunset Lake Road, Fuquay-Varina Fire Department was dispatched. Lt. Flacon lives in the neighborhood and was off duty this evening. He immediately went over assessed the resident’s safety, advised arriving units of the situation, and remained on-scene assisting and comforting residents. The homeowner called the next morning to ensure the Chief he was especially grateful for Daniels invaluable efforts, both responding while off duty and keeping his family reassured when they needed it most.

Frank Powers- Town Of Lillington Police Department

Chief Frank graduated from North Carolina State University in 1990 and started his career in Law Enforcement that same year with the Harnett County Sheriff’s Department, working with them for 10 years. Then his career took him to the town of Lillington where he became the Police Chief and has been for the past 22 years. He loves his Town and the citizens he works for. He treats his employees like family, and they all love and respect him! He has a total of 32 years of la enforcement experience all in Harnett County the place where he lives and has raised his family.

Hailey Carpenter- Concord Fire Department

Firefighter Hailey Carpenter was off duty at her residence when she noticed heavy smoke from her elderly neighbors’ residence. She knew the imminent danger to her neighbor’s life and property and acted swiftly. Hailey proceeded to force the front door open. After receiving no verbal response, she got on the floor and was able to see the feet of the elderly resident sitting in a chair. Firefighter Carpenter crawled to reach the occupant encountering fire and smoke. She was able to assist the resident to a safe location where she provided medical care for the residents burns.

Peter Watkins- Winston-Salem Police Department

Gunfire erupted outside of the Winston-Salem Police Department’s District with several officers inside and outside of the substation. More than a dozen shots were fired into the substation from an AK-47 style rifle. Officers observed the suspect fleeing from the scene in a vehicle. Lieutenant Watkins spotted the suspect vehicle traveling towards downtown and pursued. The vehicle pursuit eventually was terminated at that point, the suspect exited his vehicle and fired many shots into Lt. Watkins Vehicle.  Watkins returned fire. The suspect then fled into a nearby park with children and adults from summer camp. Several officers had arrived in the area by this point and began evacuating citizens, while the suspect began shooting at officers with a handgun. The suspect attempted to run from one position to another, and Lieutenant Watkins fired a shot from over 100 yards away hitting the suspect and taking him into custody.  Investigations into the suspect’s actions that day led officers where the suspect’s mother and grandmother were both found murdered.  The suspect has been charged with both these murders.

Located in the suspect’s vehicle were spare firearm magazines and extra ammunition, and it is believed the suspect would have continued his violent actions that day had he not been stopped by Lieutenant Watkins and the officers of the Winston-Salem Police Department.

Jim Summey- High Point Community Against Violence

Jim Summey has given of himself significantly, both professionally and personally, to make High Point a safer place to live for everyone. He worked closely with local, state and federal law enforcement, a new organization called High Point Community Against Violence to carry out a strategy to reduce open air drug sales and violence. He has testified before congress about this strategy and what makes it successful. Jim opened the door to the creation of a construction training program that provides basic training to carry out home repairs.

High Point Police Department and Allison Farrington

High Point officers responded to an assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill. Upon arrival officers located two juveniles who suffered life threatening injuries and were transported for treatment. After running license plates officers were able to retrieve the plates of the stolen vehicle involved in the shooting. On a later date the suspect entered the vehicle and began to drive. The suspect was confronted but ran into his mother’s apartment. A search warrant was filed and two suspect were arrested and firearms seized. After obtaining information about further suspects SBI Agent Allison Farrington located the suspects exact location using social media platforms and cell phones. An additional three individuals were apprehended, and all would later admit to the shooting of the two juveniles. All these officers played a major role in apprehending these suspects. This case is a perfect example of teamwork between everyone involved.