4/29/2012 10:46:00 PM For firefighter, police officer, it's about giving back
Lisa Irish/The Daily Courier
Commander Bill Cheek, center, of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Bucky O’Neill Post #541 in Prescott presents Prescott Fire Capt. Scott Luedeman, left, an award for firefighter of the year.
Lisa Irish The Daily Courier
At the Veterans of Foreign War's Loyalty Day Dinner honoring the Prescott firefighter and police officer of the year, both said how important it is for them to give back to their community.
"I like to help the community I grew up in where so many people took an interest in me and watched over me from baseball coaches, to teachers, and the person who gave me my first job," said Prescott Police Det. Mark McClain, who served the past 13 years on the Prescott Police Department, and the last three with Partners Against Narcotics Trafficking.
The PANT Taskforce investigates individuals or gangs involved in the cultivation, manufacturing, sale or distribution of narcotics or dangerous drugs in Yavapai County.
"What I do, pays that forward," McClain said. "Now, I get to take care of and watch over our community's children and those who took care of me."
Prescott Fire Capt. Scott Luedeman said that being able to help people in need is very rewarding.
"I enjoy working together with the other guys for a common goal," said Luedeman, who came up through the ranks from firefighter to engineer and then captain during his 16 years of service.
VFW Commander Bill Cheek of the Bucky O'Neill Post #541 in Prescott presented McClain and Luedeman with their awards after their supervisors gave short presentations about their work and careers.
"We really appreciate all you do for us," Cheek told McClain and Luedeman.
Prescott Fire Battalion Chief Jay Fillingim said Luedeman is a training captain who has a lifelong impact on firefighters by ensuring they develop safe and effective work habits, developing promotional tests, testing ladders and equipment to make sure they are always ready, and "ensuring that his crew and our department are ready to meet our daily challenges."
"Scott is a rising star in our family. I don't know if he knows it, but we do." Fillingim said. "I can not think of a more deserving individual who proudly represents the best of what our profession and our organization stand for."
Last year, McClain led the PANT Taskforce in arrests. McClain's investigation of three heroin overdose deaths in Prescott resulted in the arrest of a dealer who received a lengthy prison term for selling large quantities of heroin in the Quad-City area, said Prescott Police Lt. Andy Reinhardt
"McClain's work leading Operation Spring Cleanup led to the arrests of more than 60 individuals on drug-related charges, which significantly cleaned up drug activity in our community," Reinhardt said. "McClain also helped the Prescott Valley Police Department in a homicide investigation involving drug sales. Arizona Supreme Court staff named McClain instructor of the year by for his presentation on illegal drugs."
McClain also trains newly assigned PANT narcotics officers and Northern Arizona Regional Training Academy recruits on drug investigations, Reinhardt said.
"I can't imagine what the families of police and firefighters go through each day, but they should have pride in knowing that what their loved ones do each day gives us a such a great and safe place to live," said Prescott City Council Member Chris Kuknyo. Prescott City Council Member Chris Kuknyo said.
During Loyalty Day dinners at posts nationwide, the VFW recognizes police officers, firefighters, teachers, and ROTC cadets for the important work they do each day that keeps us safe, makes our community better, and honors their service, Cheek said.
"As a kid, my grandfather would take me to the VFW and he'd buy a round for everyone," Kuknyo said. "When I asked him why, he'd say it's my turn and then thank all the veterans for their service."
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall summed it up when he said, "The VFW does great things in Prescott throughout the year, and for our firefighters and police officers, who so much for our community."
Posted: Monday, April 30, 2012
Article comment by:
Congratulations to Scott and Mark on their well deserved awards! Mark McLain represents community based policing at its finest. Over these many years (23 I think, not 13) Mark has been a mentor to countless officers outside of PPD and PANT, including me. I can also finally admit I blew that call Mark...you were right and that kid was safe at 3rd base! Keep up the great work guys and thank you for your service!