Officer Hayward DeRouen was named Covington Police Department’s 2013 Officer of the Year. (Special photo)
COVINGTON — “A servant of the public.” “Helping others.” “Help save lives and change lives.”
These are just some of the ways two of Covington’s top police officers describe their jobs.
Hayward DeRouen was named on Dec. 5 Covington Police Department’s Officer of the Year for 2013. Each year, CPD employees select the officer they believe to be most deserving of that honor and the officer is named during the department’s annual year-end banquet.
Officer DeRouen has been with the Covington Police Department for about almost six years and is currently one of the department’s K9 officers. Doerak, a Belgian Manlinois, is DeRouen’s partner who accompanies him when he is working road patrol and to support officers in Covington and Newton County, as well as surrounding counties when called upon.
“Being a K9 officer is a huge burden on the officer because the dog has to become a part of his family as well as a part of his daily routine,” said CPD Chief Stacey Cotton. “Even when he’s off duty, he still has to take care of the dog. He has to prepare himself and the dog for duty every day, along with managing family time when he’s off duty.”
It’s that dedication to his job that made DeRouen stand out to his peers at the Police Department.
“DeRouen has a reputation that when he’s on the streets, he’s hitting it hard every day – out looking constantly to make things safer and better and to keep drug dealers and other bad guys on the run,” Cotton said. “He’s constantly working. Even when he’s not working, he’s working.”
For instance, if DeRouen should hear some information during his off time that he thinks would be useful, he’ll call in to his fellow officers.
For DeRouen, it’s all part of the job.
“Being a police officer is a team effort,” he said. “The more people who have information, the faster we can solve a problem.”
DeRouen joined the Police Department after serving five years in the U.S. Army, with three tours in Iraq.
“I’ve always wanted to help people and give back,” he said.
“What I enjoy most about my job is getting out and helping people who need help,” DeRouen continued. “I also like being able to come out to help save lives and change lives, to help people make better choices than going down the wrong path.”
In March, Officer Matt Cooper will mark his second year with the Covington Police Department. In that short time, Cooper has garnered recognition for his work and work ethic, earning him the honor of being named CPD’s Rookie of the Year.
Like DeRouen, Cooper’s first career was with the military.
Cooper was in the Army for eight years and was his battalion’s senior sniper with two deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan.
When he returned home, he worked for two years as an emergency medical technician with Newton Medical Center.
“When I came back, I just wanted to help people out,” Cooper said.
As a result of his work as an EMT, he got to know several members of the Police Department, who suggested he join the force.
“I wanted to be in law enforcement because I simply wanted to help people who were in need,” Cooper said. “In EMT and the Police Academy, we were taught to be a servant of the public, and I try to be that.”
Chief Cotton said the Covington Police Department benefits by having a certified EMT on staff.
“He always has a medic bag with him in case he comes across a medical emergency. It’s an invaluable talent to have,” Cotton said. “He sees law enforcement as adding another tool to his tool box. It reflects his attitude of service above self.”
Law enforcement is part of Cooper’s heritage. Cooper’s father retired from law enforcement with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources and now works part-time with the Newton County Sheriff’s Office at the courthouse.
Cooper said joining the Police Department is “an homage to his (father’s) service in law enforcement.”
“Most days we see the worst in people and it is our job to be the voices of reason for them,” he said.
Cotton said Cooper approaches his job with enthusiasm each day.
“Matt is a hard-working young man who gets out and gives 110 percent every day, and always with a smile on his face,” he said.