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2013 Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 10, 2013

Contact Person: Beth Drake (803) 929-3000

     COLUMBIA, SC – United States Attorney Bill Nettles’ Law Enforcement Coordinating Committee hosted the annual Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement Luncheon today at Fort Jackson Officers' Club, Fort Jackson, South Carolina.  The awards luncheon was attended by state, local and federal law enforcement officials from across the state.

The following South Carolina law enforcement officers received the 2013 awards:

City – Chief Charles Andrew (Andy) Robinson, York Police Department
County – Sheriff James O. Matthews, Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office
Federal - Special Agent  Alan Cornett, IRS Criminal Investigation
State – Director Alvin A. Taylor, S.C. Department of Natural Resources

The Strom Thurmond Awards for Excellence in Law Enforcement were established by Senator Strom Thurmond in 1983 to recognize law enforcement officers whose performances demonstrate the highest ideals of excellence in professional law enforcement.  An annual award is given in each of four categories: (1) City Officer; (2) County Officer; (3) State Officer; and (4) Federal Officer.  An awards committee composed of representatives from the U.S. Attorney's Office, the Strom Thurmond Foundation, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division, along with a police chief and sheriff who have received the award selected the recipients from nominations received from across the state.

United States Attorney Bill Nettles stated, "It is my great honor to recognize these four officers who exemplify the best in law enforcement.  These officers represent the many fine men and women who wear the badge, serving their communities, this state and our nation with distinction, integrity, and character, at great personal sacrifice.”

2013 City Recipient

Chief Charles Andrew (Andy) Robinson
York Police Department

Chief Andy Robinson began his law enforcement career in 1996 when he graduated from the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy as a Distinguished Graduate.  During his 17 years in law enforcement, he has worked for the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office, Rock Hill Police Department, York County Sheriff’s Office, Fort Mill Police Department and now the York Police Department.  He has served in the positions of Deputy and Patrolman, Corporal, Detective, Lieutenant, Captain, and now Police Chief.  Chief Robinson also has experience assigned to a Traffic Enforcement Unit, Crime Scene Investigation Unit, and Multijurisdictional SWAT Team.  Since becoming Chief in 2010 using his community policing philosophy, he has led his department not only by improving equipment and technology within the department but also by improving relationships with the community and businesses in York.

Chief Robinson was voted the American Legion Post 43 Officer of the year in 2004 and 2006.  He was awarded Emergency Services Personnel of the year by the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce in 2004.  In 2008, Chief Robinson was selected by the International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) as one of two law enforcement professionals nationally to receive a full scholarship to attend Northwestern University’s School of Police Staff and Command Class #275, where he finished with the top grades in his class.  In 2010, Chief Robinson was selected to attend the FBI National Academy Class #241, and has the distinction as the first police officer from the Fort Mill Police Department to do so. 

Chief Robinson earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration from Winthrop University in 1994, a Masters Certificate in Criminal Justice from the University of Virginia in 2010, and s currently pursuing his Master’s Degree in Administrative Leadership from the University of Oklahoma.

2013 County Recipient

Sheriff James O. (Jim) Matthews
Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office

Since taking office as Sheriff in January 2011, Sheriff Jim Matthews has made an enormous impact on the improved quality of life in Kershaw County.  His long-term vision and commitment to the community has brought the Kershaw County Sheriff’s Office full circle—from changing community perception of law enforcement and reducing workers compensation claims by the Sheriff’s Department by 37 percent, to taking Kershaw County from first in the state for DUI fatalities to being named as the top agency for DUI enforcement.  With a 90 percent closure rate on homicides and partnerships with state, local, and federal public safety, Sheriff Matthews has earned the respect of his subordinates and peers and is committed to improving the quality of life for all citizens.  

A graduate of the University of South Carolina with a major in Criminal Justice, Sheriff Mathews began his law enforcement career as a Deputy with the Lexington County Sheriff’s Office in 1974 as a narcotics investigator.  Before joining DEA in 1979, he served as a Police Officer at Columbia Police Department and as a Deputy Sheriff at Richland County Sheriff’s Department.   He began his DEA career as a Special Agent in Miami, FL, and later served as a course developer/instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center in Glynco, GA, and also at the FBI Academy where he instructed both DEA and FBI Special Agent trainees.  In 1987, he was assigned the DEA Office in Chiang Mai, Thailand as Resident Agent in Charge where he led a Royal Thai counter-narcotics unit, targeting Sino-Thai heroin trafficking organizations and supervised an elite 55-man paramilitary police unit responsible for locating and destroying heroin labs in the jungles of Northern Thailand.  After his overseas assignment, Sheriff Matthews was a group supervisor in Atlanta, GA, where he supervised a street enforcement group of DEA Special Agents and Task Force Officers.   His final assignment with DEA before retiring in 2001 was at the Columbia, SC, DEA Office where he served as Resident Agent in Charge and was responsible for federal drug investigations in 16 South Carolina counties.

2013 Federal Recipient

Special Agent Alan Cornett
IRS Criminal Investigation

Alan Cornett is a Special Agent with Internal Revenue Service Criminal Investigation and is currently the Coordinator of the Financial Crimes Task Force in Columbia, SC.  He has focused his career on working within the greater law enforcement community to advance criminal prosecutions, shared criminal intelligence, and asset forfeiture.  He has used his financial expertise to support local, state, and federal investigations throughout South Carolina, as well as many investigations with multi-state and multi-national effects.

A Certified Public Accountant and a Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialist, Special Agent Cornett began his career with IRS Criminal Investigation in Columbia in 2003.  During his career, Special Agent Cornett has been detailed to the Global Illicit Financial Team in Washington, DC, a multi-agency task force created to conduct investigations of international organized crime, and has been detailed to Birmingham, Alabama as the acting Supervisory Special Agent.  Except for these details, Special Agent Cornett’s entire IRS Criminal Investigation career has been in Columbia, working with local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies on a variety of investigations, involving False Claims, Mortgage Fraud, Identity Theft, Tax Evasion, Healthcare Fraud, Mail/Wire Fraud, Bulk Currency Smuggling, Bank Secrecy Act Violations, Narcotics Trafficking, and Money Laundering.  Special Agent Cornett has investigated many OCDETF Drug Trafficking cases with departments across South Carolina and investigated many Counterterrorism and Counterintelligence matters with FBI.

Prior to joining IRS Criminal Investigation, Special Agent Cornett worked as an assistant financial consultant, a credit manager, a staff accountant and a management accountant.  He earned Bachelor’s degrees in Finance and Accounting from the University of Kentucky.  He earned two Masters degrees from Morehead State University, one in Business Administration and one in Computer Information Systems.

2013 State Recipient

Director Alvin A. Taylor
S.C. Department of Natural Resources

Alvin A. Taylor is Director of the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).  He serves as the chief administrator for natural resources in the state and is responsible for management and supervision of the agency’s five line divisions:  Outreach & Support Services; Land, Water & Conservation; Law Enforcement; Marine Resources; and Wildlife & Freshwater Fisheries, with a staff of over 900 people in many locations across South Carolina. 

Director Taylor graduated from Clemson University in 1976 with a BS in Zoology.  He completed training at the U.S. Coast Guard Law Enforcement Training Center in Yorktown, VA, in 1976, and graduated from the SC Criminal Justice Academy in 1977.  He began his career with the SCDNR in 1977 and progressed through the ranks serving as an officer, private first class, sergeant, lieutenant, captain, major, and colonel—the agency’s law enforcement chief.  He is a certified SCUBA diver and for several years supervised the DNR Aquatic Investigations and Recovery Unit dive team.  He is an active member of the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, serving as its president in 2003.  He is the State Boating Law Administrator for South Carolina.  On December 8, 2011, the seven-member SCDNR Board named him Acting Director of the agency, and on March 17, 2012, he became the agency’s permanent Director. 

Among his many honors and awards, Director Taylor has received the Governor Carroll A. Campbell, Jr., Leadership Award, Meritorious Public Service Commendation from the Department of Homeland Security in 2004, Patriotic Employer Award from the National Committee for Employer Support of the National Guard and Reserve in 2003, the DNR Meritorious Service Award in 1997, the Bonner Award, and the NASBLA Award from the National Association of State Boating Law Administrators.

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