Brett Preston was the first officer hired by Sneads Police Chief Burt McAlpin in 2006. He has been with the Sneads Police Department since that time. His service during that time has not gone unnoticed. In March of this year, he was promoted to Corporal with the Sneads Police Department by Sneads Police Chief Burt McAlpin.
Last Thursday during an event recognizing law enforcement officers, first responders, and veterans, Preston was again recognized for going above and beyond what is expected in the line of duty. He was named the Jackson County Law Enforcement Officer of The Year. Corporal Brett Preston was nominated by his employer, the Sneads Police Department, and I am proud to announce, is this year’s recipient of the Chipola Civic Club First Responder of the Year award.
Jackson County Sheriff’s Sergeant Quinton Hollis said of Preston, “Brett has been in law enforcement for 20 years, 10 of which have been at the Sneads Police Department. He recently received a well-deserved promotion to the rank of corporal. He is a very dedicated and caring individual who makes his job a top priority.
In addition to being a police officer, Brett is a certified EMT and is often the first person on the scene of medical emergencies in the community.
Brett recently responded to an individual, who was in cardiac arrest, initiated CPR and continued to attempt life-saving measures for quite some time. The locally-stationed ambulance was busy on another call and the closest EMS unit had to complete a call and respond from Marianna.
If you know Brett, you know he’s a big teddy bear. Generous and giving, to a fault, he always puts others before himself. He has taken a local handicapped individual under his wing and makes sure that he is well taken care of, regardless of his needs.
Brett is well thought of within his community, as well as among his fellow officers. He is often requested, by citizens, even when he is off shift. Brett goes above and beyond to insure individuals are comfortable with the outcome of any incident, before he departs the scene, and often works late hours. He never leaves until every detail of his job is complete.
On the morning of July 3, 2010, Brett attempted to stop a car, to question the driver regarding the whereabouts of an individual who was being sought by law enforcement. Little did he know, when he activated his emergency lights, that the suspect he was looking for was slumped down in the passenger seat. The suspect forced the driver to flee the town, eastbound. When both vehicles approached the area of ACI, the suspect had the driver proceed into a field. When the car came to a stop, the suspect exited the vehicle and began to walk away. Officer Preston ordered the suspect to stop, but he refused.
Shortly thereafter, the suspect, who had directly threatened the lives of numerous law enforcement officers, turned and fired on Officer Preston. The two exchanged over 50 rounds of gunfire, with both of them being struck. When the dust settled, the suspect was hit twice; Officer Preston was hit twice and his patrol car had numerous bullet holes in it. Brett has permanent damage to one of his hands and, had it not been for his bullet proof vest, he surely would not have survived, as he took a round to the center of the chest. But, before we knew it, Brett was back to work.
For your dedication to your job and the protection of your community, Corporal Brett Preston, I am honored to award you the Chipola Civic Club’s 2017 First Responder of the Year award.”
Chief McAlpin says of Preston, “This is just great for Brett. No one gives more to their job than he does. I can’t say enough about him. He was the first officer I hired, and we are two longest in Sneads history. He goes way above and beyond what is asked of him. I have never known a time when he was called on, off duty or not, that he didn’t respond. He comes in early and works late. He is genuinely a good man, a Christian fellow. He’s as nice and polite to everyone he meets as he can be and I’ve never known him to meet a stranger. He is everything you could have to exemplify a great law enforcement officer. We are sure proud to have him in Sneads.”
Officer Preston, “Something happened when I was a kid and I just I didn’t like the situation that had happened and I said then I wanted to do something about it to change it. So I thought I could do something by getting into law enforcement. I genuinely wanted to help people and I thought I could do that by doing this job. I started in Gretna Police Department in 1997 under chief Marvin McMillian. I worked in Gretna and then I went to Chattahoochee which is my home town. I went back to Gretna until I came to Sneads in May of 2006. I like the people of Sneads. I think one of the things I learned about Sneads is that this community can come together in the worst times and you never know who in Sneads is going to give you a helping hand. I see it all the time. Great people here in Sneads.”
Nominated from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) was Investigator Shelby Williams.
Investigator Williams began his career with FWC in 2002, where he was first assigned to Collier County. After transferring to Okaloosa County, he later transferred to Santa Rosa County, where he was promoted to the rank of investigator, in 2007. In 2014, he transferred to Jackson County, where he works as a Captive Wildlife Investigator.
In the past year, Williams worked as a subject matter expert on the venomous reptile rule committee. He worked on a multi-state captive wildlife task force, which targeted the illegal trade and sale of captive wildlife.
Williams has conducted numerous investigations targeting the captive wildlife industry, as well as numerous educational outreach events at schools and civic groups. He has also assisted partner agencies in the apprehension of suspects who fled from officers.
Williams was nominated for First Responder of the Year for dedication to his job and for protecting the wildlife of our state.
Trooper David S. Cox was nominated by his employer, the Florida Highway Patrol. Trooper Cox has been with FHP for 11 years.
On April 14, 2017, Trooper Cox encountered a disabled vehicle on Interstate 10. The elderly female driver had run out of gas and Cox suspected that she might be suffering from dementia. Upon further investigation, he determined that she was listed as a Silver Alert (or missing/endangered) out of Suwannee County. Cox transported the driver back to the TA Travel Center and arranged for her family to come pick her up. He then made sure that she received lunch, staying with her until her family could arrive.
Cox is always willing to offer assistance to any of his fellow officers, regardless of the uniform they wear. A few months ago, there was a shooting incident, during which the suspect fled the area in a vehicle. Within a few minutes, following a BOLO, Cox had located and detained the suspect.
Cox was nominated for First Responder of the Year for his dedication to the safety of our citizens and his fellow officers.
School Resource Officer Deputy Jim Hamilton was nominated by his employer, the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office.
Deputy Hamilton retired from the US Air Force in 1996. He worked for the Sneads Police Department, until 2003, where he was awarded Law Enforcement Officer of the Year. Hamilton then went to work with the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, the Chattahoochee Police Department and finally the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, where he has been a faithful employee for the past 10 years.
Hamilton began as a road deputy and later transferred to the position of School Resource Officer. He is certified as an SRO and was also certified by the Attorneys General Office as a Crime Prevention Specialist.
Hamilton promotes community policing, by interacting with local citizens, churches and businesses. He educates children about crime prevention and safety, was instrumental in getting the Teen Driver Challenge program started in Jackson County and arranges to bring the Arrive Alive Tour to Jackson County schools each year.
For his dedication to the safety of our citizens, especially our children, Hamilton was nominated for First Responder of the Year.
Captain Brice Phillips was nominated by his employer, Marianna Fire & Rescue. During his 20-year tenure with Marianna Fire & Rescue, Phillips has served the citizens of Marianna faithfully, in many capacities including firefighter and driver engineer. He is currently captain of C-Shift.
Despite adversity faced in his life, over the past year, Phillips’ commitment to Marianna Fire & Rescue and the citizens of Marianna has never wavered, resulting in his nomination for First Responder of the Year.
EMT/Firefighter Cody Land was nominated by his employer, Jackson County Fire & Rescue. Cody was nominated because of his positive attitude and willingness to help.
Chief Birge says that Cody has an infectious smile and his demeanor makes him a joy to work with. His attitude drives him to excel through the trying times of staff shortages, long shifts and the daily stress of the job. He is a positive example and influence for his co-workers.
Cody was nominated for First Responder of the Year for his dedication to the safety of our citizens and his positive outlook.
Officer Colt Howell was nominated by his employer, the Marianna Police Department. During his tenure with MPD, Howell has proven himself to be a dedicated employee, who enjoys being a public servant. He always goes above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the citizens of Marianna are taken care of.
Recently, Howell was faced with a situation where a motorist, in a local restaurant drive-thru lane, was angry with service provided and refused to move her vehicle. This caused a traffic jam of cars, all waiting to get their food, with the situation rapidly escalating.
Howell’s calm demeanor de-escalated the situation and brought it to a peaceful conclusion. He was nominated for First Responder of the Year for his patience and dedication.
The publisher and staff at the Times congratulates Corporal Brett Preston on his most recent honor, and all of the first responders for putting their life on the line for the citizens of Jackson County.