By Traci Chapman
In two departments staffed by veteran employees who have worked for years on behalf of the city, it can’t always be easy for police and fire administrators to choose one individual to single out for recognition. Each year, however, they do so, nominating department representatives to be honored by American Legion Post 353.
They are the Firefighter and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year awards and this year, those recognized were honored in an April 12 ceremony that left standing room only during the post’s regular monthly meeting.
“We asked the chiefs and City Manager (Tim) Rooney to have as many of you as possible here tonight for a very selfish reason – we want to personally say thank you for all you do for us,” Post 353 Commander Paul Ray said. “We know how blessed the city of Mustang is to have the group of people we do working for us – we wanted to tell you how glad we are to have people like you here for us and how proud we are of you.”
Sgt. Jeff Six
Mustang Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
Anyone who spends any time at Mustang High School is familiar with Jeff Six, assigned as school resource officer to the site since August 2009. The sergeant – who is celebrating his 13th year with the department – has spent the bulk of his Mustang police career in that spot, after working as a patrol officer, a job he returns to when school is out for the summer.
The school resource officer program has become a highly successful one, Deputy Chief Mike Wallace said, in no small part due to Six’s dedication to it.
“Jeff’s passion for his job is evident on a daily basis, and his care and compassion for the youth of our community is second to none,” Wallace said. “Jeff is well-known throughout the community as one of the school officers and is highly respected by not only the school’s staff, but hundreds of current and former students of the Mustang Public School system.”
Six’s assignment to school resource officer duty was a natural one because of Six’s drive to help children – all children, Wallace said. He is a leader in the department’s annual Shop with an Officer program, which gives Mustang students who otherwise might not have a Christmas the chance not only to buy presents for themselves, but also their families.
“This event has evolved into one of the largest community events the police department is involved in annually, and due to Jeff’s dedication and tireless efforts, it becomes more successful each year,” the deputy chief said. “Although Jeff is part of a large team of dedicated workers, as well as sponsors, it is his leadership throughout the months leading up to the event that has made Shop with an Officer a highly recognized and anticipated event by many within the community. “Jeff works with the school’s counselors to determine the children that could stand to benefit from the event, then personally meets with each family during the event and assures they are met with kindness and compassion,” Wallace said.
In his free time, Six continues to safeguard Mustang residents’ security, the deputy chief said. Early in his tenure with the department, Wallace said Six helped several area Neighborhood Watch programs establish security protocols, as well as working security during school activities and a large weekly youth event at a local church.
“Although Jeff is highly training and possesses the skills that make him a good officer, it is his overwhelming love for children and heartfelt desire to help others that makes him this year’s nomination,” the deputy chief said. “Jeff is an outstanding police officer and his care for this community is a tremendous example to everyone.”
Cpl. Bryon Smith
Mustang Firefighter of the Year
While Cpl. Bryon Smith is a relative newcomer to Mustang Fire Department, he has made a big difference in that time, Chief Craig Carruth said.
“Bryon is typically a quiet individual and lets his work speak for itself – he is a very dedicated employee and is willing to do whatever is needed for the good of the department,” the chief said. “Fellow firefighters admire Bryon’s fire and rescue knowledge, along with his bedside manner and calm demeanor during emergency events.”
Smith joined MFD in February 2014 as a volunteer and achieved full-time firefighter status in August 2015, Carruth said. After attending Eastern Oklahoma County Vo-Tech firefighter academy, Smith graduated in May 2016.
The Mustang corporal has achieved National Registry of Emergency Medical Technicians and International Fire Service Accreditation Congress certifications; he is a Firefighter II, the second IFSAC level, which includes hazardous materials operations certification and several other components not yet achieved by those holding FF I status, according to the IFSAC website.
“Bryon has also recently increased his level of EMS care by becoming a nationally registered AEMT (advanced emergency medical technician),” Carruth said.
Although only a four-year veteran of the department, Smith quickly became a mentor to his fellow firefighters and excels at training others, the chief said.
“Bryon is sought out by these firefighters due to his ability to relate content and coach others through difficult situations – Bryon understands teamwork and what it means to be selfless,” Carruth said. “It is no wonder why so many of our personnel view Bryon as a leader and why he is so highly respected around the department.
“It is also why so many of his peers nominated him to receive this year’s fire department employee of the year award,” he said.
“It gives us a great deal of pleasure to be allowed to honor and recognize you for what you do for this city, both on our time and on your own,” Ray told Smith and Six. “To the city leaders, we say thank you for selecting people like this to care for our families, our homes and our community.”