SIDNEY — Sidney Police Officer Mike McRill has been named a Kentucky Colonel. The distinction is the highest title of honor bestowed by the governor of Kentucky.
The “Honorable Order of Kentucky Colonels,” founded in 1932, is a voluntary, philanthropic organization that recognizes an “individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service.” It is a lifetime distinction. Members are ambassadors of good will and fellowship around the world. They reach out to the needy, with the intent of also preserving Kentucky’s “rich heritage.” Officers serve without pay or compensation.
The honor was presented to McRill by his nominator, Sidney resident Col. L.A. Thayer, during Monday’s Sidney City Council meeting.
“Officer McRill is passionate, caring and devoted in his life’s mission to always help those who need it,” Thayer said, with emotion in his voice as he admitted being proud to issue McRill a commission as a Kentucky Colonel.
“Excuse me if I get choked up, but I’m a humble man today, so, I’m just pleased with everything you guys are doing and Officer Mike McRill, this is about you buddy,” Thayer said, fighting back tears.
Thayer, a self-proclaimed Col. Sanders “look-alike,” was named a Kentucky Colonel in 2016. McRill, who serves as Sidney Police Department’s (SPD) community resource officer, is Thayer’s first nominee since since becoming a Kentucky Colonel. To be commissioned, an individual must be nominated by another Kentucky Colonel and then be approved by Kentucky’s governor. The individual’s contributions and service to their community, state or nation, and special achievements are considered.
Kentucky Gov. Matthew G. Bevin approved Thayer’s recommendation based on “all that (McRill) does to help others.”
“I chose him because he has gone over and beyond any man in our community for giving of his time and reaching out and help others in their time in need. His accomplishments in life as a father, husband, and outstanding police officer has touched many lives in a positive way, including my own. My way of commending him was to nominate him for this honorable commission,” Thayer said when presenting the framed commission.
McRill told the Sidney Daily News receiving the honor came as a “total surprise.”
“I had no clue,” McRill said and admitted to being overwhelmed by the honor. “I had heard of it before and knew it was like being knighted, and that a lot of influential people had the title, and I was thinking, ‘I don’t belong with this crowd.’”
“I love what I do in my job and helping people: kids, those in recovery and others in the community. It’s not like an award I wanted to go out and try to earn. I love my job and to think I’m getting awarded for that, he continued. “There are other guys (detectives) at my department who do just as much, with juvenile sex crimes, or drug (enforcement), but cannot be recognized because it would endanger the investigation or (those involved). But I can be; it makes me feel a little guilty.”
McRill said Wednesday morning, “I felt this morning that (the distinction) makes me want to work even harder. If this is what you think I am, I better do my work to prove I am deserving (of the title).”
In conjunction with McRill’s honor, Sidney Police Chief Will Balling presented council with SPD’s first place in the Destination Zero Comprehensive Safety Award for 2018. The award recognizes the law enforcement agency that has successfully developed, implemented and promoted the most comprehensive and strategically implemented officer safety or officer wellness program.
The Destination Zero program aims to help agencies improve officers’ health and safety across the country. Departments are honored for excellence in four categories: general officer safety, officer traffic safety, officer wellness and comprehensive safety.
Last year, SPD tied as runner-up for the Wellness Award which recognizes officer safety/wellness programs “that proactively engage employees in initiatives that increase overall officer wellness and/or reduce line-of-duty injuries or deaths.”
City Manager Mark Cundiff also shared with council that Balling was recently honored with the William E. Crosier Distinguished Service Award by the Ohio Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP).
The OACP is a nonprofit organization that is dedicated to continuing professionalism and innovation among police executives in order to assure the continued success of the law enforcement community.
The award is presented to an active OACP police chief member to recognize extraordinary volunteer service during the current OACP membership year in unselfishly offering time, talent, and leadership to the members, mission and OACP programs.
Council and Cundiff gave a round of applause for all of the awards and honors presented and congratulated Balling, McRill and the department on their accomplishments.
In other business, Cundiff reminded council and the public that trash and recycling pick up will be delayed by a day all week due to Memorial Day on Monday.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4823.