The Fulton Rotary Club honored Sgt. Corey Schmidt on Wednesday with the G.W. Law Award, an annual honor given to a law enforcement official who exemplifies Rotary's motto, "service above self."
Schmidt, a road sergeant and K9 handler for the Callaway County Sheriff's Office, expressed gratitude for the recognition.
"There's a lot of people I could thank that have helped me along my career," he said, listing his nominator, Lt. Curtis Hall, and Sheriff Clay Chism among them.
He also thanked his wife, Mandy, who "puts up with me working not only 12-hour shifts but pretty much around the clock as I never stop talking about being part of this great agency."
In Hall's nomination, he described Schmidt as a hard-working and well-respected officer. As a road sergeant, Schmidt supervises four deputies while continuing to patrol and perform other duties. Hall said he often puts new, less experienced deputies under Schmidt for mentoring.
Schmidt applied to become the CCSO's second K9 handler in 2019.
"I originally had concerns that being a working road sergeant and a K9 handler would be too much for him; however, he told me he could do it," Hall wrote.
As a K9 handler, Schmidt must be available for call-outs to assist with investigations every other week, no matter when that call may arrive.
"I've never heard Corey complain about being called out at 2 a.m. for a search only to be back at work by 6 a.m.," Hall wrote.
He also told a story about a recent incident in which Schmidt's quick actions helped save a life. Schmidt was heading home after a shift when the radio crackled with news of an accident on I-70 in which a pedestrian had been struck by a moving vehicle. Schmidt and another deputy headed to the scene, put tourniquets on the pedestrian's bleeding limbs and kept the victim alive until medical professionals arrived. The pedestrian lost a leg but survived. Hall noted while Schmidt was off-duty and had no obligation to respond to the scene, his eagerness to help brought him there anyway.
The other nominee this year was Sgt. Jeff Harding, a member of the CCSO's investigations division and a previous recipient of the award. He was nominated by his supervisor, Lt. Matthew Palmer.
Harding has been with the CCSO for 14 years. Among his primary duties are processing crime scenes, dealing with non-compliant sex offenders and acting as custodian of evidence. Palmer stated he suspects Harding works many more hours than he officially logs, assisting his fellow officers. Harding developed a manual to help the sheriff's office deputies properly package and submit evidence collected during investigations — if improperly handled, evidence can be rejected from the crime lab or deemed inadmissible.
"If not for Sgt. Harding's meticulous handling of the sheriff office's evidence, all of (the) deputies' hard work would be for naught," Palmer wrote, adding, "It takes many hours of training and great deal of experience to properly process a crime scene and we only have one chance to do it right."
Callaway County Ambulance District Director Charles Anderson presented the award during a virtual Rotary meeting.
"Usually, we have a big production with fried chicken and all the fixings and invite all the law enforcement members to come be our guests," he said. "Obviously, 2020 had different plans."
He hopes to return to the regular format in 2021.
Founded in 1998, the G.W. Law Award is named for George W. Law, a lieutenant colonel in the Confederate Army who was elected sheriff of Callaway County in 1872. He was killed in the line of duty Aug. 15, 1873, when he was attacked by a mob while transporting a convicted thief to a train station.
"Gunshots rang out, the mob overtook the carriage and during the attack Sheriff Law was mortally wounded, although he did not succumb to his wounds until eight days later," Anderson said.
He noted Callaway County's law enforcement officers never know when they'll be called upon to save a life, take a life or lay down their own lives in the line of duty.
"They know their day can go from zero to 60 mph in the blink of an eye," he said.