VIRGINIA BEACH – Princess Anne Post 113 of the American Legion recognized four members of the Virginia Beach public safety community on Sunday, Feb. 12, during a Law and Order Day gathering at the Virginia Beach Resort Hotel and Conference Center.
The post honored fire Capt. Glenn Burnett, sheriff’s Deputy Zachary Diggs, Master Police Officer Preston Vaughan and volunteer rescue squad member Alex Witte for their service to the city and their respective organizations.
State Del. Glenn Davis, R-84th, said during his remarks some people who serve as first responders in Virginia Beach also have military service connections, and he addressed added pressures in law enforcement in recent years, such as preparing for major situations involving active shooters.
“Thank you so much for what you do for our community,” Davis said.
The awardees were:
► Burnett attended a fire department volunteer recruit class in 1993, was hired in 1996 and, a decade later, became a captain, according to a biography read during the ceremony.
He has served with the department’s technical rescue team and now serves with the hazardous materials team.
In addition, he serves as a rescue squad officer with Virginia Task Force 2. In that role, he has deployed to several disasters to conduct search and rescue operations.
► Diggs was honored for his commitment to the sheriff’s office, where he has worked training others and developed a reputation for a “tremendous” work ethic, according to a nominating letter by sheriff’s Lt. N. Curtis.
Diggs recently assisted with manpower shortages with intake and release, assisting with admission and release of inmates, including a large number of people being brought in for weekend sentences.
Diggs also forwarded gang-related information to the intelligence division, Curtis wrote in the letter. Diggs is active in the community, including volunteering with the Mayflower Marathon food drive.
► Vaughan, also the officer of the year for the First Precinct, earned the Police department award for the close, effective relationship he has built as a community oriented policing officer with people in the Princess Anne Plaza area.
Vaughan worked closely with a ministry in the community and, as Sgt. R.W. Cheatham put in a nominating letter, “has made a difference in mending the discourse we see across this country by taking the time to speak to all citizens.”
Vaughan also was lauded for making felony arrests, getting criminals out of the neighborhood, and as a key resource to the neighborhood who engages its people.
“He makes himself available to them at any time,” Cheatham wrote, “and often speaks to them when he is out in the community off duty.”
► After leaving the Navy, Witte got hooked on service when a college professor urged him to go on an observational duty with the city’s emergency medical services, which benefits from volunteer rescue squads.
Susan Palmer, recruitment and retention officer for city EMS, in a nominating letter wrote, “He is so enthusiastic and dedicated that he has taken almost every certification.”
Witte has earned a number of awards for his service, and he runs far more shifts than required. In 2015, he served nearly 2,000 hours and was dispatched to more than 1,000 calls.
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