By CHRISTIN COYNE
The Weatherford College Criminal Justice Club Friday night named Parker County Sheriff’s Cpl. Ben Overholt the Parker County Peace Officer of the Year.
Overholt, one of six nominees from law enforcement departments across the county, was recognized for his more than eight years in law enforcement and service in the local community.
Overholt began his law enforcement career while serving in the United States Coast Guard as a member of the Coastal Drug Interdiction Unit and, in 2005, joined the Springtown Police Department.
The following year, he was recruited by the Parker County Sheriff’s Office and became a patrol deputy. Overholt joined the Weatherford-Parker County Special Operations Group in 2007 and was selected as a patrol corporal for the sheriff’s office in 2008.
While assisting the Weatherford Police Department in August 2011, Overholt was responsible for the arrests of two men who robbed a drug store and was awarded the sheriff’s commendation, according to his nomination letter from Sheriff Larry Fowler.
Last year, Overholt was selected as an assistant team leader on the SOG team and currently serves as a captain in the sheriff’s honor guard.
Overholt was also recognized by the sheriff’s office for his part in the March arrest of a suspect wanted by the U.S. Marshal’s Taskforce after a high speed pursuit ended in south Fort Worth.
Outside of his work with the sheriff’s office, Overholt also volunteers with the La Junta Volunteer Fire Department, which also named him VFD officer of the year on Saturday.
A committee of the criminal justice club used a variety of criteria in selecting the officer of the year, club advisor and Weatherford College criminal justice program coordinator Tim Poston said.
They consider things such as the officer’s integrity, leadership as a law enforcement officer, involvement in areas such as SWAT, outstanding actions and service to the community outside policing.
During the banquet, club president Reed Hampton also recognized other nominees for the award, including Officer David Morton of the Weatherford Police Department, Trooper Chris Markin of the Texas Department of Public Safety, Assistant Fire Marshal Frank Watson of the Parker County Fire Marshal’s Office, Sgt. Rick Reese of the Hudson Oaks Police Department and Cpl. Rick Mabry of the Willow Park Police Department.
Poston said he believes it’s been about 15 years since a county-wide officer of the year award has been presented.
It’s something he plans to continue annually.
Officers in the Metroplex have opportunities for recognition but officers in rural areas are often overlooked, he said.
“I feel like it’s vital that we do this in the county,” Poston said.
As they expand the criminal justice program throughout the college’s five-county service area, Poston said he’d like include other counties in the awards for a larger pool of candidates.