Patrolman William David Peoples
Cambridge (OH) Police Department
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Patrolman William David Peoples as its Officer of the Month for May 2001. Patrolman Peoples serves with the Cambridge, Ohio Police Department.
Even as a young boy, Dave, as his family and friends know him, loved cars and so few were surprised when he became an auto mechanic shortly after high school. His philosophy was simple; do what you love. He was, however, intrigued by the stories he heard from his cousin, a police officer in a neighboring town and in February 1994 he completed a course offered by the Ohio Peace Officer Training Council and joined the Cambridge Police Department as an auxiliary officer. In order to devote as much time as possible to his new responsibilities, Auxiliary Officer Peoples worked three part-time jobs and within one year had accumulated the most auxiliary patrol hours in the history of the department.
In 1995 the city of Cambridge experienced a catastrophic main waterline break. So trusted was Auxiliary Patrolman Peoples that he was assigned the challenging responsibility of setting up water distribution points and delivery for the town's twelve thousand residents. His dedication to excellence and concern for the citizens of Cambridge earned him an Exceptional Service Medal from city officials. Although his decision surprised many of his friends and family, Dave Peoples knew he had to do what he loved and in May 1996 he became a full-time, sworn officer with the Cambridge Police Department.
In January 1997, a young man who had been experiencing serious family problems threatened to take his own life by jumping off a bridge, some 80 feet over a set of railroad tracks. Although this was his first case involving an attempted suicide, Patrolman Peoples spoke to the gentleman for several hours in a calm, reassuring voice. Ultimately fellow officers distracted the man long enough for Patrolman Peoples to grab him and pull him from the ledge. For his patience and bravery, Patrolman Peoples was awarded the Life Saving Medal with Silver Torch.
Cambridge is a small town 80 miles east of Columbus, a close-knit community where people share each others joys and sorrows. In 1998, a severe rainstorm, which was never predicted, led to flooding which ravaged the area. Dave Peoples, as well as the other 22 officers in his department, worked 18-hour days doing what they could to save the community and its citizens. Patrolman Peoples remembers that perhaps the most dangerous, but most rewarding task was evacuating 125 elderly people from the local health care facility. As they were gingerly transported by small boat to higher ground, these frightened wheelchair bound residents looked to the young officer for courage. Patrolman Peoples' concern and compassion was so evident that Stephanie Gregor, who covered the story for "The Daily Jeffersonian" wrote of it in her column. She knew immediately that she had met an exceptional and heroic individual and within a year, the two were married. Mrs. Peoples is often heard to say, "William David Peoples is more than my husband, he is my hero."
Patrolman Peoples states that one misconception people have about living in a small town is that big city problems will never invade the community. He knows that this is not true and feels he must be trained to face any situation. In addition to a myriad of other programs, he has completed training on LEADS (Law Enforcement Automobile Data System), the state computer database which is linked with NCIC (National Crime Information Center) and is a Blood/Alcohol Master Operator. Patrolman Peoples' total of 566 arrests, an average of more than 47 per month, earned him the department's Year 2000 "Most Arrests" Award.
"Dave Peoples is a very good officer," says Sergeant Robert Daymut, of the Cambridge Police Department. "He is hardworking and conscious of what he does for the community. He is, overall, a well-rounded patrolman, and is one of our top five officers for arrests."
Since 1998, Patrolman Peoples has been active with the Guernsey County Big Brother/Big Sister Community Outreach Program. His dedication to the organization and his little brother earned him the 1999 Big Brother of the Year Award. In what little spare time he has left, Patrolman Peoples coaches a youth soccer team comprised of eight and nine year old girls.
"You really have to want to do this job and honestly want to help people," says Patrolman Peoples. "The excitement, the salary, etc. has to come second to really wanting to be in law enforcement. A good cop is always fair and always honest." William David Peoples strives everyday to maintain that integrity.