LOGAN — Running into burning buildings, conducting CPR, helping people who have minutes to live in fear of bleeding out, conducting drug raids, putting criminals behind bars and performing a typical traffic stop are all things first responders deal with on a daily basis to keep the community safe.
This is a week to celebrate and appreciate all the first responders who’ve sacrificed their lives for the betterment of the community around them.
The Logan Daily News will feature a first responder from the Logan Police Department, Hocking County Sheriff’s Office, Logan Fire Department and the Hocking County EMS this week in honor of their commitment to the community.
First in line for recognition is Lt. Mike Walton, who celebrated 29 years with the Logan Police Department in March and knows when the time comes, he’ll be ready to retire.
In 1981, he had the tires stolen off his pickup truck while in college at the University of Rio Grande. He told the director of student security to put him on duty and things would begin to change around the college. Shortly after Christmas break, around 4 a.m. in the morning, someone stole all the sound equipment of the Choraliers from the fine arts performing building.
“That spiked my interest in what went on and from there my college career went downhill and my law enforcement career bloomed,” explained Walton.
As one can guess, over 29 years in law enforcement can provide a lot of different experiences, some to cherish forever, and others you wish you had never witnessed. However, through it all, Walton still says his favorite aspect about working in law enforcement is meeting and helping people everyday.
One of those moments that Walton will cherish forever is a card that was sent to him by a couple that had lost their daughter in a tragic accident. After responding to the scene and conducting an investigation, he reached out to the parents and asked if they would be willing to talk.
“Mike, thank you for being such a blessing. I enjoyed our talk and we bought the book you recommended. We’re only on day 14 but it has completely changed our thinking. I just wanted to say thank you and God Bless,” stated the card.
Walton keeps record of all the major runs he’s been on along with the letters and notes of appreciation he receives to remind himself of why he loves his job. He’s been on scenes of life-threatening accidents, drug raids, domestic violence incidents and more, but he continues to show up and give his best everyday.
“Where else can you get paid for every move you make that’s accounted for number one, but two you’re paid to help people all the time — even when we’re out enforcing traffic laws, it’s for the common good of the community,” concluded Walton.
Many celebrate the week of appreciation for first responders, but locally the 317 Board is hosting three Helping the Helper trainings for all of those impacted by occupational burnout. The Ebenezer Baptist Church celebrated first responders on Sunday during worship services.
Other LPD officers include: Logan Police Department Chief Jerry Mellinger and Captain Ryan Gabriel; Lt. Greg Cluley; Lt. Mike Walton; Lt. Tony Byram; Patrolman Jason Gadrim; Patrolman Scott Mingus; Patrolman Josh Mowery; Patrolman Ryan Culbertson; Patrolman Ben Skinner; Patrolman Justin Garrett; Patrolman Shawn Woodgeard; Patrolman Eli Burchfield; Patrolman Devin Alford; Patrolman Carl Stump; and School Resource Officers, Patrolman Chris Smith and Patrolman Dan Campbell.