XENIA — As a Xenia police officer and county SWAT team member, Harold Matheson is usually prepared for any situation.
Except when it comes to recognition.
The 17-year veteran was not expecting to hear his name called when the prestigious Casey Elliott “City’s Finest” Award was presented during the annual police awards ceremony recently.
“I was totally caught off guard,” Matheson said. “It’s really quite an honor to receive this award. I really didn’t expect it.”
The award, one of several given out at the ceremony, was named after C.K. Elliott, who joined the police force in 1943 and rose to acting chief before serving as a municipal court bailiff. In all, Elliott totaled 35 years of public service and the award was set up by his family in recognition of police officers who distinguish themselves through an outstanding accomplishment, bravery or humanitarian service in police work.
Matheson has served the last 11 years as the division’s Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) officer, spending most of his time in Xenia’s schools, which is why he didn’t fancy himself as award-worthy.
“I expected it to go to somebody that did something really brave this year,” Matheson said. “I’m not out there usually on the street every day. What I do is important (but) It’s not really the main function of the police department. I don’t feel like I’m out there on the line like other guys.”
In addition to his DARE assignment, Matheson has represented XPD at countless community events and continued to keep Xenia’s Safety City and County DARE Camp thriving. He is a “sniper” on the SWAT team and also provides sniper training to others throughout the county.
“Whether speaking with students about the responsibilities of being a safety patrol member and the example that they are setting, the long-time Tomahawk Trail Neighborhood Watch Group, or the willingness to represent the division when needed, Officer Matheson has always been a great asset to this department,” said Police Chief Randy Person.
In a somewhat-ironic twist, Matheson said this is his last year as the DARE officer. He is returning to patrol this fall.
Meritorious Service Awards were presented to Sergeant Jeffery Osburn, Officer Philip Pierson, Officer Matt Cvitkovich, and Officer Robert Swihart, for attempts to save lives and acts above and beyond the call of duty.
Leadership Awards were presented to Sergeant Chris Stutes, Detective Steve Shaw, and Officer Darrin Barlow for their continued leadership within the organization.
The Silver Shield Commendation was presented to Officer Chris Reed for the highest level of overall patrol operations within the patrol section.
The Outstanding Support Service Award were presented to Sherri DeWine and Deborah Smith for their professionalism, self-initiative, and work and ethical standards, as well as their respective excellent work record over the past year.