Brevard County Chiefs of Police Association Recognize Officers of the Year From Area Agencies
By Wayne Ivey, Brevard County Sheriff // August 9, 2020
Nicole Bernhard, Paul Phillips, and Gary Nichols were honored at the awards ceremony
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – The Brevard County Chiefs of Police Association held their annual awards ceremony and presented awards to the Communications Officer, Corrections Officer, and Law Enforcement Officer of the Year from each Brevard County agency.
Each agency’s selection represented the best of the best for their respective agency as they serve and protect the citizens of Brevard County each and every day.
The ceremony was held in the Brevard County Commission Chambers, with limited guests and family due to pandemic concerns.
At the conclusion of the ceremony, Chief Nelson Moya, President of the Association, presented awards to the Communication Officer of the Year, the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year and the Corrections Officer of the Year for all of Brevard County that was selected by the committee after considering each agency’s award recipients and their many accomplishments.
It gives me great pride to announce that the Chief’s Association’s Award Committee named Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Communications Officer Nicole Bernhard as the Brevard County Communications Officer of the Year; Corrections Corporal Gary Nichols as the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Officer of the Year and Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Paul Phillips as the Brevard County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year.
Having been present at the presentation of the awards I can tell you first hand that the representatives from each agency were all deserving of this honor as their professionalism, commitment, and dedication to protecting our community is nothing short of amazing.
To have our three team members receive the “Of The Year” honors is incredible and I am truly proud of each of them for the job they do every day to make our agency one of the most professional agencies in the country!
Please join me in thanking the Chief’s Association for their commitment to Brevard County Law Enforcement and each agency’s respective award recipient as each performed in an outstanding manner, proudly representing their agency and community.
Nicole Bernhard: 2019 Brevard County Communication’s Officer of the Year
Communications Officer Bernhard answered an emergency 9-1-1 telephone call from a suicidal teenager. For almost eight minutes, Communications Officer Bernhard kept the teenager on the telephone while gathering vital information and building a rapport, distracting him from jumping from the eighth floor of a condominium.
The teenager told Communications Officer Bernhard that there were suicide attempts in the past and didn’t want to stay on the telephone because, “If I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.”
Communications Officer Bernhard remained calm and the caller ultimately hung up the line. Moments after doing so, responding Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Deputies advised, “the subject is secured…pulled back over the rail.”
The male was actually in the process of attempting to jump from the balcony when he was quickly reached and pulled to safety by the deputies. The deputies advised that “the original plan was to jump as soon the deputies arrived, but that dispatcher had kept him talking.”
Less than one month later, Communications Officer Nicole Bernhard answered an emergency 911 telephone call from an individual who was contemplating suicide and was armed with a weapon. As the subject became more desperate, Officer Bernhard was able to successfully calm him down.
This call continued for over thirty minutes, which included multiple mood swings. After the arrival of deputies, Officer Bernhard was instrumental in getting the suicidal individual to meet with deputies without his weapon.
The subject was then secured without incident.
Nicole’s dedication and commitment to the citizens of Brevard County are clearly demonstrated in these emergency calls.
Through her exemplary skills, Nicole prevented the loss of life by keeping the individuals engaged, delaying their plans of suicide until deputies could arrive safely and diffuse the situation.
Gary Nichols: 2019 Brevard County Sheriff’s Office Corrections Deputy of the Year
Corporal Gary Nichols was assigned as the Officer in Charge of a detention Pod, an extremely busy unit that regularly houses over 250 inmates.
Although managing high operational demands, Corporal Nichols recognized a frantic call of an inmate pleading for help.
The inmate stated his girlfriend whom he had been speaking with on the telephone was having a medical emergency.
The inmate further explained that during the course of the telephone call, his girlfriend advised her right arm went numb and her speech appeared to be faltering, as if she was having difficulty breathing. He explained she was alone on the side of her employment building when the telephone disconnected.
Using multiple resources, Corporal Nichols located a contact for the business. He then contacted the place of employment which was in Lakeland and spoke with the owner.
Quickly briefing him of the events that had occurred, Corporal Nichols relayed that the woman may possibly be on the side of a building having a medical emergency.
When the owner responded to the location, he located the woman unresponsive on the ground. Corporal Nichols then heard what appeared to be a distressed voice requesting help.
He instructed the owner to immediately contact 911 and have emergency services respond.
Corporal Nichols followed-up on the well-being of the woman and was told the ambulance was on scene and was going to transport her to a local hospital.
It was later learned the woman had suffered a catastrophic medical episode, which required immediate medical attention and hospitalization.
If it were not for the quick actions of Corporal Nichols, this incident could have ended in tragedy, instead the women made a full recovery.
Paul Phillips: 2019 Brevard County Law Enforcement Officer of the Year
On the evening of June 4, 2019, Deputy Paul Phillips responded to a residence in Indialantic, in reference to a neighborhood dispute.
As he was gathering information on the scene, an irate neighbor began yelling and screaming from his property. Deputy Phillips told the complainant to go into his residence and he would speak with the upset neighbor.
As Deputy Phillips approached, the male continued to scream at him in a belligerent manner. While additional units were enroute as backup, Deputy Phillips heard the distinct sound of a firearm being chambered with a round.
The male then opened fire on Deputy Phillips, striking him in the right shoulder and both legs. Deputy Phillips was able to return fire from the ground and moved to cover.
Moments later, Sergeant Kevin Roberts arrived on scene and observed Deputy Phillips critically injured and in a driveway.
Sergeant Roberts learned from Deputy Phillips that he believed the suspect had entered his residence. Arriving deputies approached the residence and observed the male on the ground next to a rifle and unresponsive.
If it were not for the courageous actions of Deputy Phillips, the suspect may have severely injured or even killed the neighbor and other responding Deputies. Deputy Phillips distinguished himself through his selfless act of bravery by placing himself in harm’s way to protect his community.
We are extremely pleased that Deputy Phillips recently returned to full duty after having undergone multiple surgeries and making a complete recovery.
Deputy Paul Phillips represents the highest ideals and finest example of the men and women of the Brevard County Sheriff’s Office.
In addition to receiving a Wound Bar for the injuries sustained in the line of duty, he was also recognized for his heroism by receiving the agency’s highest honor, the Medal of Valor.
– Sheriff Wayne Ivey
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