Shotwell honored for service

Rebecca Neipp

News Review Staff Writer

Shotwell  honored  for serviceVeterans of Foreign Wars recently recognized Deputy Josh Shotwell of the Ridgecrest Substation of Kern County Sheriff’s Office as the local “Public Servant of the Year” for going above and beyond the call of duty to serve his community.

“It’s not just me, though,” he told the News Review in a recent interview. “I think all of the deputies here are like that — I just got caught doing it.”

“Shotwell is an outstanding deputy, always going out of his way to help others, is constantly recognized by his peers for the work that he does and has been recognized frequently by members of the public through emails, letters and phone calls,” said Sgt. Ed O’Brien, substation commander.

O’Brien noted that, in addition to Shotwell’s consistently outstanding performance reviews, his accolades include a commendation from KCSO for his actions to rescue a 2-month-old infant in cardiac arrest.

O’Brien and Shotwell worked together previously when the former was senior deputy at the local station, as well as during their current assignment.

“This is one of the things that makes the Ridgecrest substation so great — we have many deputies assigned here who have a personal interest in serving this community, who take ownership of their role in protecting the public,” said O’Brien.

Shotwell agreed. “I think living here, raising my kids here, makes a difference. You don’t want bad things to happen in your community — even when you’re off duty.”

Shotwell has been known to apprehend criminals in the act of stealing in his neighborhood at 3 a.m.

O’Brien said that his on-duty record was also exemplary enough to earn him the most recent honor.

One day, Shotwell and his partner got a call that an elderly woman was found quite a distance from her home, too disoriented to say where she lived.

Shotwell immediately knew where she lived and was able to get her home safely. The woman’s caretaker, who lived on the same property, was distressed to find that the woman wandered off without being noticed. So Shotwell spent his own time and money his next day off to purchase and install an alarm that would alert the caretaker if the woman exited her home again.

Another call brought Shotwell and his partner to find a family living in squalor at a local trailer park. “It was kind of a child-endangerment situation, but the family just didn’t have the resources to improve their situation.”

The deputies found out that the father of the children wanted to take them to stay with his parents in Los Angeles until he could get back on his feet — he just didn’t have a way to get them there.

“So Shotwell opened up his wallet and shelled out enough money not just for gas, but for dinner and snacks for the family to be able to eat as well,” said O’Brien.

“That wasn’t just me, though, that was [Deputy Brad] Bays as well,” added Shotwell.

Another time, when a young girl lost her bike and didn’t have a way to get a new one, one of the local deputies put up his own money (again) to get a new one. O’Brien said it was Shotwell. Shotwell said that was Bays.

But Shotwell begrudgingly admitted to several other random acts of kindness, including mentoring two juveniles who were struggling in school and tangling with their guardians. Shotwell and his partner made the girls a deal that if they could pull up their grades and start helping out around the house, they would have a party.

The girls followed through, and so did local deputies — showing up to the home on the Fourth of July with ice cream and fireworks.

O’Brien acknowledged that tensions between officers and the public are high in many other communities. “I absolutely believe it’s different here in Ridgecrest. I wish I knew what it was, but all I know is that because of my positive experience before in Ridgecrest I asked to come back. I just fell in love with this community and the way it supports its law-enforcement officers.

“We do the best we can, in turn, to provide great service. I think part of the reason for the positive relationship is because deputies like Shotwell go above and beyond, and consistently do more than is required of them.”

“I just want to make it clear that everyone here works together,” said Shotwell. “I don’t think I should be getting all the credit.”

“They truly don’t want the spotlight or recognition,” said O’Brien. “They just want to serve their community.”

Story First Published: 2018-11-30