Det. Robert Aviles and dispatching supervisor Sue Walker have been tabbed as the Wellington police department’s 2016 officer and dispatcher of the year.
“It’s a privilege to be among the men and women of the Wellington police department,” said Aviles. “We work together. There’s no one person more important than the next one. To represent my department this way is an honor.”
Aviles was a main proponent in securing Mercy Allen Hospital in Oberlin as a sponsor for Westwood Elementary’s latchkey program, said Wellington school board member Ayers Ratliff.
The hospital has donated $84,500 to the latchkey program over the past 13 years.
“Thirteen years ago, the latchkey program was closed down,” Ratliff said.. “It was not self-sufficient. Det. Aviles and I got together with parents and he led a charge in telling the school board it shouldn’t be closed down.”
Aviles said his motivation to organize latchkey fundraisers and contact Mercy came from his own experience as a single parent.
“At that time I had two children in the latchkey program,” he said. “It was very instrumental for working parents. I was a single parent at the time with custody of my children. I don’t know how I could have pulled off working full-time while taking care of children and a family without the latchkey program. It’s just so beneficial.”
Aviles said the trend of declining theft, burglary, and vandalism in Wellington can persist by keeping officers highly visible in the community.
“The community seems to be more responsive and wanting to work with us,” he said. “Chief (Tim) Barfield is helping us quickly take care of issues as they come up.”
Walker has been with the WPD for 25 years and said she was caught off guard by the accolade.
“I was expecting this to go to one of my dispatchers,” she said. “We all work together. It’s just a nice surprise. I’m just the supervisor, so I was expecting someone working under me to get it.”
She agreed with Aviles that heightened police presence in Wellington has helped curb downtown crime, but said residents also need to be vigilant in spotting and reporting suspicious activity.
“The extra patrol has been very impactful,” she said. “It’s about having eyes open for us officers but also for the people. If you see something suspicious, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll always send someone. That’s what we’re here for.”
Jonathan Delozier can be reached at 440-647-3171 or @DelozierNews on Twitter.