The Officer Gregory Alia award, awarded each fall at our Knight of Honor Gala, recognizes officers who have demonstrated excellence in community service. In excitement for this year’s nominees, we caught up with last year’s winner, Sgt Ricardo Perry from Hanahan Police Department.
Were you surprised to win the award last year?
It was a huge surprise. I had no clue. When I received the nomination, at first I thought I was just doing what I thought everybody should be doing. I don’t think what I am doing is so grand. It should be normal for everybody. When I found out that I won, I was shocked. How is it that there were all these great people at this event and how is it I won? I was very humbled, very grateful, that I was chosen.
You have helped hundreds of young men through your work with your nonprofit, the Distinguished Gentlemen’s Club. To many, this isn’t traditional law enforcement work. What does it mean to you?
I’ve always said as police officers that we have a great influence, especially when it comes to working with children. You can say anything as a police officer and they’ll believe it. With that influence, we should use it for good. If they are going to take it at our words, let’s build them up. With that, law enforcement and my purpose in life go hand in hand.
What have you been up to in the past year?
I published my book, A Gift Worth Fighting For. There is a passage in the Bible that children are a gift from God. The book talks about how we are supposed to fight for that gift, it gives tools for how to handle children, and offers things we can do on our end to help them be successful. The book is less about what children need to do and more about what we need to do as adults. I also launched a program for juvenile offenders. It’s a program for medium to high risk young men in Berkeley County. They are referred to us by the South Carolina Department of Juvenile Justice and they come to us with different challenges. We focus on giving them tools to stop destructive behavior and promote cognitive self-change. The model is “giving up who I am for who I can become.” The hope is we will be able to influence their mind and environment they are surrounded by to help them do things differently. We will work with them for 12 months consistently and then afterwards to make sure they are successful. We want them to graduate high school, get a career, or whatever success looks like to them.
What message do you have for the nominees?
Continue to be selfless. Most of the nominees, if they are being nominated, it is because they are going beyond the call of duty. They are not doing their 12 hour shift or 8 hour shift and going home. The reality is if no one recognizes you or appreciates your work, then you have to continue to do this good work because it is needed.
Thank you, Sgt Perry, for sitting down and catching up with us! We are all looking forward to seeing which of our 2018 nominees will follow in your footsteps by receiving this year’s Officer Gregory Alia award. Interested in our annual Knight of Honor Gala where the community comes together to celebrate police officer and citizen alike? Learn more on our website, www.serveandconnect.net/celebrate.