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2006 George Almond Officer of the Year Named

2006 George Almond Officer of the Year Recipient Detective Jim Grier with Retired Detective George Almond
2006 George Almond Officer of the Year Recipient Detective Jim Grier with Retired Detective George Almond

Detective Jim Grier was named the 1st recipient of the 2006 George Almond Officer of the Year award in festivities at the Embassy Suites in Cary on February 17, 2007. The Cary Chapter Board, in their first year chose to sponsor an Officer of the Year award in honor of retired Detective George Almond. Almond, who is a PBA member was shot in the line of duty in October of 2001. He survived the shooting and returned to duty as a detective in juvenile investigations before retiring in August of 2004. The award recognizes outstanding achievement in the areas of leadership, community service, mentoring, excellence in performance, and valor. Grier was selected from a group of five finalists by the Cary Chapter board. Sheri Abraham, Wyatt Crabtree, Brian Smith, and Jim Young.

Grier was nominated, by his commander, Captain Dave Wulff, for his exemplary actions involving a program that he developed. He developed the idea of the Life Program (Re-Directing Youth Toward a Crime Free Future). This program is loosely based on the Scared Straight Lifer’s program being conducted at the East Jersey State Prison. He undertook this initiative on his own and has the support of the Cary Police department to continue this program. Youth are recommended to the program by the officers, schools, families, and friends. A release is signed by the parents or guardians after the program is explained to them. Groups are brought to the Cary Police department and are met by officers in drill sergeant fashion. They are given a taste of what life in prison holds for them should they continue in the direction they are headed. Guest speakers (generally current or former inmates with serious prison records) are brought in to explain what life is like inside an institution. To date, Detective Grier has run four such programs involving 44 youth ranging in age from 12 to 17. Follow-up with them is done to see if there have been any additional problems. To date, out of 44 youth who have attended the Life Program only four have continued to be a problem. This is a success rate of 90.9%. According to Capt. Wulff, “This speaks volumes to the effort put into the development of the program, and the dedication Detective Grier has to the community.”

Grier was born in Johnson City, New York and lived all over the southern tier of New York. Grier likes to state that his educational degrees are from “Shoe Leather University.” He started his career with the Broome County Sheriff’s Department in 1982 as a deputy/corrections officer. He later transferred to the Binghamton Police Department where he worked for the next 12 ½ years. During that time he was on the SWAT team was a detective for five years. He also was part of the first uniformed street crime unit. He transferred to the Cary Police Department in 1998. Grier is currently assigned as a detective to the Investigations and Family Services team. He has been married to his wife Debbie for 29 years. They have two children, Josh and Alicia, and two grandchildren, Dykoda and Zach. Josh Grier is a police officer with the Apex Police Department. Grier’s interests include playing guitar, automotive mechanics, and home repair. He is a Christian who believes that the members are the church and that the buildings are just where we go to meet and worship together.

The awards program was attended by more than 200 people and had huge support from the community. A dinner complete with a jazz ensemble started what truly turned into a very special evening. The Cary Police Department Honor Guard presented the colors and Katherine Fritsch who is 8 years old held those in attendance spellbound with the singing of the national anthem. Fritsch recently started her career and sings the national anthem at the Carolina Hurricane hockey games. Kevin Tingen then presented the invocation and Cary Chapter President Randy Byrd welcomed those in attendance. He also recognized the hosts and sponsors of the event along with special guests in attendance who included members of the Citizens Assisting Police team, Mayor Ernie McAlister, Rep. Ty Harrell, Senator Janet Cowell, Rep. Paul Stam, County Commissioner Lindy Brown, and former Cary Town Council member Mike Joyce.

John Bachman with WRAL-TV was then introduced as the Master of Ceremonies. Bachman a reporter/anchor has covered many law enforcement related stories during his career. His insight and well placed humor added much to the evening. Bachman also introduced Wake County Clerk of Court Lorrin Freeman as the featured speaker.

Freeman, who is a former prosecutor and assistant attorney general for the state of North Carolina, has developed a close relationship with law enforcement and the PBA. She gave a heartfelt speech about the community’s commitment to law enforcement and George Almond’s dedication to public service. According to Freeman, “I can think of no one better for this award to be named for than George Almond. He embodies those highest aspirations that we as citizens have for our law enforcement: to be brave and selfless, to act with integrity and to be committed to serving the public.” As part of her speech, Freeman recognized the spouses of the officers by having them stand.

George Almond was then introduced as the guest speaker by John Bachman. Almond gave a passionate speech that offered incredible insight into his experiences. One of the most poignant parts of his speech was the sharing of a letter that he read in federal court when his assailant was sentenced. Almond also took the time to recognize all the officers who were in attendance. John Bachman continued with the program by recognizing the five finalists as Almond presented each of them with an awards plaque. Almond also gave his personal thoughts about each of the finalists before presenting the final award to Jim Grier. Grier offered his appreciation for receiving the award in a short acceptance speech.

After a round of door prize presentations and a word about the Police Benevolent Foundation, Gary Hundley gave the benediction to close a truly memorable evening.

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