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Liberty Lake police, staff awards, honors handed out

The Liberty Lake City Council wrapped up the year with a short, feel-good meeting as achievement awards were given to police officers and city staff as only four of seven council members looked on.

Officers Erin Lance and Mark Van Hyning were both recognized for having five years of employment with the city. Police Chief Brian Asmus also handed out three awards given to Liberty Lake officers by the Traffic Safety Commission. Officers Brad Deines and Lance were recognized for their number of driving under the influence arrests made. Asmus noted that Deines works the night shift and Lance the day shift. “We’re equal opportunity DUI enforcement,” he said. “Day or night, it doesn’t matter.”

Officer Taj Wilkerson was recognized for the number of speeding tickets he wrote, many of them written outside the city as a participant in regional emphasis patrols.

Sgt. Clint Gibson presented the Sergeant’s Award to Lance for effective law enforcement and “apprehension of bad guys.” Gibson noted that Lance can remember license plates seen months before and has arrested the same man for driving with a suspended license three times because she remembers his car. “This officer has a memory like an elephant,” Gibson said.

The Chief’s Award went to Gibson for his outstanding performance, leadership and the training program he developed. The police officers also voted to give Gibson the Administrator of the Year Award, with one officer describing him as a “good cop.” The department’s administrative assistant, Bobbi Anderson, was given a certificate of appreciation for the work she does with the department’s computerized records and multiple other tasks.

In previous years the chief decided the winner of the Officer of the Year Award by looking at arrest statistics. This year, however, the department voted to determine the winner. The voting was close, Asmus said. The award went to Officer Darin Morgan, described by his peers as a “well rounded officer” who is “dependable and reliable.”

Each department in the city voted for the person in their department to receive “Above and Beyond Awards.” The awards were given to those who consistently go the extra mile in the performance of their duties. The winners were administrative assistant Michelle Griffin, library clerk Rosemary Marshall, chief building inspector Wayne Hammond, superintendent of public works Mick Curry, golf professional Mollie Thola and recreation coordinator Troy Mullenix.

Several council members also said a public farewell to council member Neal Olander, who was attending his last meeting before his replacement is sworn in. “I’ve always appreciated his analysis,” said council member Dave Crump. “He’s a man of tolerance and he’s kind.”

Council member Judi Owens commented that she and Olander would still be neighbors. “It has been a pleasure working with you,” she said. “We will miss your input on the council.”

Council member Odin Langford said that while he and Olander didn’t always agree, he gave Olander what he said was his highest compliment. “The citizen’s have benefitted from your service,” he said.

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