Annual prayer breakfast honors law enforcement

Beyond: Serving with Purpose
March 14, 2019
Jo Ellen Walker
March 14, 2019

Annual prayer breakfast honors law enforcement

Greenville County Law Enforcement honored at the Allen Jacobs Memorial Prayer Breakfast, Mar. 15, 2018. Photo by Derek Eckenroth

BJU has displayed thin blue line flags at the front of campus at the Bridge of Nations all week as a sign of support for Thursday’s third annual Allen Jacobs Memorial Prayer Breakfast.

The breakfast honors Greenville County’s law enforcement professionals with four awards: Public Safety Employee of the Year, Award of Merit, Award of Distinguished Achievement and the Allen Jacobs Award of Valor.

Three years ago on March 18, Greenville Officer Allen Jacobs was shot and killed in the line of duty while attempting to apprehend a teenager who had an illegal weapon.

The Greenville community was shocked and mourned their loss of an excellent officer and his family’s loss of a beloved husband, father, brother and son.

Jacobs had attended Bob Jones Academy, and his parents Drs. Don and Tammie Jacobs are BJU faculty.

This tragedy prompted Bob Jones University to host an annual memorial breakfast to honor Jacobs’ sacrifice and to recognize the daily heroic dedication of other law enforcement  professionals in the Greenville community.

The Public Safety Employee of the Year was awarded to Officer Kurt Sittmann, a two-year veteran with the Greenville Police Department.

His nomination praised his leadership and ethics, saying, “Officer Sittmann demonstrates a great work ethic, great initiative and dependability amongst his peers.”

Sittmann was praised for his proactive dedication to continuing to educate himself and for his humility in seeking advice from veteran officers in all units.

This is not the first time he has been recognized for exemplary service; he also received at least two other commendations for excellent work on past cases.

Officer Thomas Westhoof was chosen for the Award of Merit, acclaimed by his nominator for his diligence and proficiency in solving cases and identifying sought-after subjects.

Westhoof’s nomination said his service-mindedness is thorough and consistent, demonstrated in part by the fact that he even keeps clothing and blankets in his vehicle to hand out to those in need that he comes across. He was also praised for his humility, never seeking recognition or attention for his actions.

The Award of Distinguished Achievement was given to Investigator Michael Robertson, a dedicated employee in law enforcement for the last 30 years. He is currently the master deputy/investigator in the Greenville Juvenile Unit.

Robertson was praised for maintaining great working relationships with other departments, being an example to everyone he meets and always making himself available to serve on and off duty.

Known to go the extra mile to thoroughly complete investigations, Robertson also continues to seek additional training and share what he learns with his coworkers.

His example extends beyond the workplace and into his personal life, as he has served as a role model to his three boys, five grandchildren and the baseball team he coaches.

The Allen Jacobs Award of Valor was given to Officer Siva “Nikki” Morton, who was acclaimed for displaying great dedication to policing.

On numerous occasions, Morton has displayed a remarkable ability to maintain composure under stress, successfully subduing threats and ensuring security for all involved. Her nominator shared that her effectiveness is due to her quick action and attentiveness to ongoing incidents throughout the city.

Randy Page, BJU chief of staff, said the breakfast thanks those who may be overlooked or taken for granted. “It’s always easy to see people that are very public but not . . . the individual officers,” he said. “This gives us an opportunity to say thank you individually to them.”

Every year, approximately 250 people attend the breakfast, which is notable for a city the size of Greenville. In Atlanta, for example—a city with a population more than seven times that of Greenville—400 attended a similar event.

The breakfast is a community effort, from individuals who sponsor event tables, to businesses that donate their supplies and services, to BJU criminal justice majors who direct traffic and set up chairs.

Courtney Montgomery, BJU public relations assistant, said the criminal justice students are especially eager to participate, knowing that in a couple of years they will be the ones serving on the road.

“[CJ majors are] all hands on deck,” Montgomery said. “Everybody’s there for hours, and they get it done. You don’t have to ask them twice.”