Even a veteran investigator can be fooled.
North Olmsted Police Chief Bob Wagner found that out when he was named the department’s 2019 Police Officer of the Year. Wagner commanded the department’s detective bureau before he became chief in October 2017.
“Nope, not a clue,” Wagner said after the awards banquet Nov. 20 at the North Olmsted Community Cabin. The unsuspecting chief gave master of ceremonies Lt. Bob Dungan a startled look when Dungan announced Wagner as the winner and pulled back the curtain on the North Olmsted Community Cabin stage to reveal Wagner’s family standing there smiling.
Sponsored by VFW Post 7646 in North Olmsted, the ceremony also recognized firefighter paramedic Giles “Frank” Selig as the firefighter of the year. The 10-year veteran was recognized for his professionalism and performance in delivering a baby girl the evening of June 23 while en route to the hospital from a local restaurant. Selig is always professional and is well-respected by his fellow firefighters, said Fire Chief Ed Schepp. Selig works well with other firefighters in different situations and also is good with citizens whenever he interacts with them, said Schepp.
Several members of the police department were in on keeping the award news from the chief. Wagner was asked to prepare a few words to say about the winner, but since he was the winner, members of the department involved in the selection engaged in subterfuge by telling him Sgt. Dave Woehrman had won the award.
“We had to sneak around a little bit,” Detective Sgt. Dan Barrett said. “A few members of each shift knew, so we were able to keep a lid on it. Dave (Woehrman) was great about it, too, which we really appreciate.”
Wagner even congratulated Woehrman’s wife before the dinner festivities.
“She didn’t let on what was going on either,” Wagner said. “They did a good job of keeping it from me.”
Wagner’s selection stems from his close work with the entire department, Barrett said.
“He’s put good policies in place like changing the shift format, bringing the K-9 officer back, having morale at a high level again and being fair and even-handed with the department,” Barrett said. “He’s gotten positions filled that were open with good people. You can go in and talk to him and know you’ll be heard. He leads by example by being a hard worker.”
Wagner said he appreciates the selection.
“It’s really humbling,” he said. “Particularly since they took those kind of steps to do this. The ship is going in a good direction and we want to keep that going.”
Barrett expects Woehrman will win the award someday.
“But there’s no way we’ll be able to keep it from him like we did the chief, though,” Barrett said.
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