City honors officer, dispatcher of the year

by Bob Gaetjens | Editor Published:

Streetsboro Police Officer Chris Petro and Dispatcher Sara Newpher have been recognized by their peers for their contributions to community safety during 2013 as the Officer of the Year and Dispatcher of the Year, respectively.

Police Chief Roy Mosley III said both were nominated by their fellow officers and dispatchers in the department for the honor. Mosley said he made the final choice, based on the nominations. Also nominated were five other officers and two other dispatchers.

"In this particular case, we had multiple nominations for Chris Petro and for Sara," said Mosley. "They both had very solid recommendations from their peers."

Making the streets safer

Mosley said Petro distinguished himself with his arrests for operating a vehicle under the influence.

"We, as a department, had 209 arrests for [OVI] and Chris was responsible for 70 of those," he said. "Chris was just off the charts this year with his drug busts and OVIs."

Petro said he was "surprised" to receive the Officer of the Year Award.

"We have numerous officers in our department who had an exceptional year in 2013, so I'm very honored to receive this award," he said.

A member of the Streetsboro Police Department since February 1995, Petro has become much more than just an effective officer, according to Mosley.

"He's taken on an informal leadership and mentoring role with our younger officers," said the chief. "He's made himself a resource, which has been very beneficial."

Petro said he initiates most OVI stops by following a motorist who's weaving in and out of the marked lanes.

"When I activate my emergency lights, I look to see if they are unusually slow to pull over or if they stop in the middle of the lane. Once I make contact with the driver, I check for other indicators, such as odor of alcoholic beverages, glossy or bloodshot eyes and slurred speech," he said. "When it comes to OVI drivers, I just try to treat everyone fairly and with respect."

Mosley said Petro also has been recognized for the past 11 years by Mothers Against Drunk Driving of Portage County for his enforcement of OVI laws.

Calling on

experience for poise

Newpher, said Mosley, distinguished herself with her poise on emergency calls.

"She was able to multi-task really well," he said. "She was able to handle herself really well under pressure."

She also organized a police fundraiser at Stringz & Wingz during the fall, he added.

"Sara put a lot of time and effort into that event," said Mosley. "Everybody took note of that."

A member of the Streetsboro Police Department since 2011 with prior experience with the Lake County Sheriff's Department, Newpher said she was "pleasantly surprised" to receive the Dispatcher of the Year Award for 2013.

Sgt. Andrew Suvada, in his nomination form, described a January 2013 incident in which Newpher successfully coordinated several units involved in a car chase.

"Dispatcher Newpher recognized this instantaneously, sending extra personnel to the area," wrote Suvada in his nomination. "She was mindful of her responsibilities, relaying vital information to other officers, including the shift officer in command. She quickly ascertained the direction of travel, speed and road conditions and coordinated efforts of our officer and officers from neighboring jurisdictions."

The incident ended in an arrest without further difficulty, according to Suvada.

Newpher said some calls require more thought than others.

"Sometimes in a suicidal or psychiatric situation, you have to be careful what you say," she said. "Anything you say can be misinterpreted and lead to some pretty bad consequences."

Many calls become much more routine, she added.

"After awhile, you just go back on your experience," she said. "It'll be 10 years [of dispatching] for me in July. I've probably taken thousands if not tens of thousands of calls."

Email: bgaetjens@recordpub.com

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