CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The Charleston Public Safety Council honored first responders who have done more than just their job.

Valerie Ellis, the president of the CPSC, said the Salute to Public Safety Awards, held Tuesday at the Four Points by Sheraton, are special because of who chooses the honorees, the Charleston Police Department, Fire Department and Metro Emergency Operations. “They pick one member from their own force that they feel has really gone above and beyond the call of duty. I think that’s what makes it so much more special,” stressed Ellis. “It’s not just random people selecting someone who helped them. These are their peers making the selections.”

The Charleston Police Department selected Cpl. Ryan Higginbotham. He’s said he’s not sure why he was chosen because he works with so many dedicated officers. However, as he was handed his award, he was thinking about the man it was named for.

“You wear the badge and you can wear it the rest of your career. For me, if I see someone wearing it, it makes me think of Jerry Jones,” said Higginbotham.

Jones, a Charleston patrolman, was killed in the line of duty by friendly fire during a police pursuit in 2009.

The Charleston Fire Department chose Captain Mike Shank as Firefighter of the Year and Metro 911 chose Luke Taylor as Telecommunicator of the Year.

Ellis stressed it’s important the first responder community isn’t the only group to know about these special public servants.

“What we want to do is let the community know how fortunate we are to have these people that work every day. They take time out to make our city a safer place to live, work and play,”

This was the tenth year the CPSC handed out the awards. Several previous honorees were on hand to celebrate with their co-workers.

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