Hoover honors public safety award winners

By AMY JONES / Associate Editor

HOOVER — The city of Hoover named its public safety award winners at the Hoover Chamber of Commerce meeting Feb. 16.

Hoover Fire Chief Chuck Wingate named Michael Wathen as Firefighter of the Year.

Hoover Police Chief Nicholas Derzis named Kimberly Quattlebaum as Officer of the Year, Amy Aldridge as Telecommunicator of the Year and Ronald Swanger as Senior Detention Officer of the Year.

Michael Thorine and Pat McDonald were nominees for the Firefighter of the Year award, while Shannise Spruel and Wayne Weems were nominees for the Officer of the Year award.

Wingate said Wathen received the Firefighter of the Year award because of a fire at the Vestavia Knolls condominiums on Sept. 27, 2011. Wathen’s quick actions during that fire stopped the flames from spreading to adjoining condos.

“He has gained the reputation of a cool-headed yet aggressive firefighter,” Wingate said of Wathen.

Derzis said Quattlebaum received the Officer of the Year award after stopping two suspects from stealing money and ATM card numbers at a local bank. Her actions led to the retrieval of evidence including more than $51,000 in cash, 340 bank cards, GPS devices, four laptops with digital evidence and ATM face plates with materials needed to attach ATM card readers in order to steal card numbers.

The two suspects now face two counts of alleging conspiracy and attempt to defraud Regions Bank. If convicted, each faces a maximum sentence of 30 years in prison and up to $1 million in fines.

Aldridge received the Telecommunicator of the Year award after an Aug. 17 incident in which she received a call about an illegal alien with an active federal arrest warrant. Aldridge found and disseminated information about the illegal alien, leading to officers locating the individual. He is now in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, Derzis said.

Swanger was named the Senior Detention Officer of the Year for foiling an escape attempt by an inmate at the Hoover Municipal Jail, Derzis said.