Ce­cil honors first re­spon­ders with ap­pre­ci­a­tion din­ner

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— Com­mu­nity mem­bers joined law en­force­ment, fire­fight­ers and emer­gency of­fi­cials to show their ap­pre­ci­a­tion for first re­spon­ders at the Ce­cil County First Re­spon­ders Ap­pre­ci­a­tion Din­ner on Fri­day evening at Singerly Ban­quet Hall.

First re­spon­ders from var­i­ous Ce­cil County de­part­ments were rec­og­nized for their ser­vice.

Elk­ton Po­lice Chief Matthew Don­nelly ac­com­pa­nied his de­part­ment’s hon­oree, Cpl. Todd Finch, to the din­ner. Don­nelly said Finch, who was named the de­part­ment’s Of­fi­cer of the Year last year, has dis­played im­pres­sive ded­i­ca­tion in his

ELK­TON

ser­vice to the peo­ple of Ce­cil County.

“He’s an ex­cel­lent of­fi­cer,” Don­nelly said. “He’s an ad­vanced traf­fic ac­ci­dent in­ves­ti­ga­tor, ob­vi­ously holds the rank of cor­po­ral. [He] does great in­ves­ti­ga­tions, makes crim­i­nal ar­rests, traf­fic ar­rests.”

Finch said he sees a bit of a dis­con­nect be­tween cit­i­zens and first re­spon­ders, and he wishes peo­ple would bet­ter un­der­stand what po­lice of­fi­cers are tr ying to do.

“I think the big­gest thing they should know is we’re there when they need us and they shouldn’t be afraid to help us help them, and also use us as a re­source when they need us,” he said. “Give us that op­por­tu­nity to be able to come and pro­vide what­ever as­sis­tance we can. That’s what we’re here for.”

Bridg­ing that gap will re­quire ef­fort on both sides, Finch said.

“I think the norm in so­ci­ety nowa­days is to avoid that, but we’ve got to be able to help them un­der­stand that there’s more to be­ing in law en­force­ment or be­ing law en­force­ment than just the bad stuff,” he said.

Finch ex­plained that the job of po­lice isn’t merely to ar­rest peo­ple; they are often the first and last on scene dur­ing med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

Don­nelly said he ap­pre­ci­ates the ef­forts of the Ce­cil County Cham­ber of Com­merce, which started the ap­pre­ci­a­tion din­ner as a way for the com­mu­nity to show they care about the work first re­spon­ders do.

“It’s great for the first re­spon­ders to be rec­og­nized by com­mu­nity mem­bers,” he said. “I think it in­stills con­fi­dence in con­tin­u­ing do­ing the job at the high­est level pos­si­ble.”

He re­minded peo­ple that at the end of a shift, first re­spon­ders look for­ward to go­ing home to their fam­i­lies just like ev­ery­one else.

“First re­spon­ders are peo­ple too,” he said. “They’re hus­bands, they’re wives, some of them have chil­dren and fam­i­lies.”

Pa­tri­cia Dea­mond, a board di­rec­tor and im­me­di­ate past pres­i­dent of the North East Fire Com­pany, be­came in­volved with the fire com­pany when she mar­ried her late hus­band, H. Terry Dea­mond, who was a past chief and pres­i­dent.

“If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em,” she said. “So I joined ‘em.”

Pa­tri­cia em­pha­sized the im­por­tance of hon­or­ing first re­spon­ders be­cause many of them work odd hours and serve the com­mu­nity on a vol­un­tary ba­sis.

“They go when­ever there is a call re­gard­less of the hours, all day and night, re­gard­less of the weather,” she said. “There is no 9 to 5.”

Ce­cil County Sher­iff’s Of­fice Dfc. Joseph McCabe said he en­joys the un­ex­pected na­ture of his job.

“There’s no av­er­age day. Ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent … I love not know­ing,” he said.

McCabe, who han­dles a lot of se­ri­ous crashes, said he tries to be sym­pa­thetic to what peo­ple are go­ing through and make them feel even a lit­tle bit bet­ter.

“Ev­ery per­son we deal with is prob­a­bly hav­ing the worst day of their life,” he said. “So we have to treat them that way.”

Michael and Kristin Hughes, own­ers of Servpro of Ce­cil County and one of the din­ner’s spon­sors, said they at­tended to show their grat­i­tude for first re­spon­ders.

“We’re a com­mu­ni­ty­based busi­ness and we wanted to help sup­port the lo­cal com­mu­nity,” Michael said. “We also honor our first re­spon­ders and we greatly ap­pre­ci­ate the ser­vices that they pro­vide.”

Servpro pro­vides water and fire cleanup and restora­tion ser­vices, so the busi­ness often in­ter­acts with first re­spon­ders af­ter crime or fire scenes, Michael said.

“They’re there ad­dress­ing and tak­ing care of things, and we kind of come in af­ter the fact,” he said.

Kristin said it is im­por­tant to pay trib­ute to the men and women who pro­tect the com­mu­nity from harm and help peo­ple pick up the pieces when in­ci­dents do oc­cur.

“Their lives are on the line ev­ery day,” she said

Michael added that first re­spon­ders are an in­te­gral part of the Ce­cil County com­mu­nity.

“They’re a line of de­fense,” he said. “They keep us se­cure. They take care of our lo­cal com­mu­nity. They’re there when some­thing hap­pens with our own per­sonal prop­erty or home … It’s a very hon­or­able po­si­tion, and peo­ple who vol­un­teer and put their time and ef­fort into it de­serve the grat­i­tude.”

CE­CIL WHIG PHOTO BY MAR­CUS DIETERLE

Elk­ton Po­lice Chief Matthew Don­nelly, left, ac­com­pa­nied Cpl. Todd Finch to the ap­pre­ci­a­tion din­ner. Finch was hon­ored for his ser­vice within EPD.

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