This year we received some amazing nominations of police officers doing outstanding work within their community and truly making a difference in the lives of people they serve.
After reviewing all the nominations, Vaughan Garrett has named Pittsburgh Police Master Patrol Officer, Michael Lee Gay, for the 2016 OPOC award.
Mike started the academy in 1994 and early on in his career, Mike was an eyewitness to a brutal and senseless murder of his cousin. Mike pursued the suspects on foot and later testified against them in court. This was the beginning of establishing himself as an adult, an officer of the law and a pillar of the community in which he was raised. From that moment on Mike has always reached out to the community. Mike set his own grief and anguish aside and maintained a strong shoulder for his community to cry on. This strength showed itself again when a cousin and hometown hero, Officer Eric Kelly, was assassinated with two other officers. As the community mourned, Mike demonstrated that tragedy will not defeat hope. A community resource officer in a primarily African-American District, Mike is making every attempt that he can to bridge the gap that exists between the community and the police. Mike is constantly involved in food banks, toy drives, car washes, coaching youth football and being involved with the schools within his district. Mike is always a phone call away whenever the residents of the community need him.
Mike does not know what a standard eight-hour day is due to all the extra time he puts in for his community. Even in situations where are rules and regulations prohibit police officers from participating in uniform, Mike is always there in his street clothes, supporting his fellow residents. There is no doubt Mike has firmly established himself as a leader within his community. Mike is always willing to sit down and take part in community meetings, National Night Out's and whatever he can do to represent the best that the Pittsburgh Police can offer. This past Christmas, over 400 gifts were stolen from an East Hills Community Center. The gifts were for underprivileged children within Mike's district. Mike was the trailblazer in establishing the effort to reach out to the entire Pittsburgh Metropolitan area and was able to secure a $10,000 donation from Toys for Tots along with donations from many of the corporations in the city to make sure these children received gifts.
Even in the tough times that our profession is experiencing, Mike is sensitive to the questions and concerns of his community, while also addressing the tactical and accountability perspectives of his brothers and sisters in blue. Bridging these gaps and mending these fences is an almost impossible task, but if there was one man that can accomplish it, it is Mike Gay. It is with great honor that we name Mike Gay the 2016 OPOC Award Winner.
We would like to thank Vaughan Garrett and Garrett Metal Detectors for their continued support of police softball and for creating this award that recognizes the best among us. It is sincerely appreciated.