The State Law Enforcement Chiefs Association conducted its annual awards ceremony in Tallahassee on Feb. 18, 2014. Florida Highway Patrol nominated: Lt. Jimmie Collins, Lt. Michael Hughes, Trooper John Paikai, Trooper Joseph Gideons, Trooper Billy Herrera and Trooper Gualberto Morales to represent the Patrol.
FHP winners were: Lieutenant Collins for Outstanding Law Enforcement Trainer Award, Trooper Morales for the Medal of Valor and Trooper Billy Herrera for the Lifesaving Award.
Lt. Collins was selected for SLECA’s Outstanding Law Enforcement Trainer Award based on his passion and dedication to training. As the FHP’s lead defensive tactics and vehicle operations instructor, he oversaw the high liability training of five separate recruit classes during the past calendar year. Collins’ unselfish willingness to work as hard as necessary to provide our troopers with the knowledge and skills they need to help FHP successfully carry out its mission. Lt. Collins also stared in the Patrol’s newest PSA on impaired driving. You can find the PSA on DHSMV’s YouTube page at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TnwABAbYs9o.
Trooper Billy Herrera was selected for SLECA’s Lifesaving Award based on his actions in Nov. 2013. While he was as home, his neighbor came to his door screaming because her grandson was unresponsive and not breathing. The grandmother handed Herrera her grandson while screaming “he is dead help, help.” Herrera immediately started to perform CPR. After approximately half a minute of performing CPR the child started to release fluid from his mouth and then had a seizure. Herrera stopped performing CPR, held the child’s hand during the seizure, and once the seizure finished Herrera started CPR again successfully, saving the child’s life.
Trooper Gualberto Morales was awarded SLECA’s Medal of Valor for his attempt to rescue three members of a family confined in a submerged overturned vehicle from a crash in 20 feet of water. Morales made several exhausting attempts to open the car doors and shatter the windows to free the trapped motorists. With the water pressure working against him and an alligator nearby, Trooper Morales continued with his attempts to save the occupants until the dive team arrived sixteen minutes later. Though his efforts were unsuccessful he made a valiant effort to rescue the family trapped inside that vehicle.
Congratulations to all our winners and nominees. Their commitment to the residents of the state of Florida is to be commended. Excellent job by all.