Nomination for Peace Officer of the Year- Jefferson City Police Department
On October 25, 2018 a resident reported that a young child living with her, Darnell Gray, was missing. The Jefferson City Police Department immediately responded and started a search of the neighborhood. When 4 year-old Darnell was not found, they went door to door asking for assistance. They did not have a warrant to enter units and had to request permission to enter. The officers knocking on doors were concerned about the child’s safety and got immediate cooperation from the neighborhood. Having no success there, they enlisted the help of other law enforcement agencies including the FBI. Over six days more than 150 law enforcement personnel participated in the search. They set up community search teams, they reviewed all available video of the neighborhood, they investigated the pond, they drained the pond, they used aerial surveillance to search for the child and continuously spoke to neighbors in hopes of getting information to help locate the child. Officers worked round the clock and beyond their shifts focusing on finding Darnell. Over 1,000 hours were put into the search. This was extremely emotional and stressful for the officers and the neighbors, all sharing a common goal of finding Darnell. After six days of intense searching the body of Darnell was found and the caretaker charged with child abuse resulting in the death of a child.
The police department cannot identify any one officer for this award as all the staff was dedicated to finding Darnell. This was a highly unusual and tragic situation that was handled professionally and compassionately by the police department. The obvious dedication of law enforcement personnel fostered a spirit of cooperation throughout the entire community. The Jefferson City Police Department is very supportive and attentive to the needs of our residents year-round but this tragedy demonstrated extraordinary commitment and compassion for Housing Authority residents.