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American Legion names Sedlacek, Dawe as top firefighter, police officer

MADISON – American Legion, Post 229 announced its annual awards for the city’s outstanding fire fighter and police officer at Madison City Council’s meeting on Dec. 14.

Post Commander Larry Vannoy and Americanism Chairman Tom McKinney presented the awards to Michael Sedlacek, “2020 Firefighter of the Year,” Madison Fire and Rescue Department, and Sgt. Ralph Dawe IV, “2020 Police Officer of the Year,” Madison Police Department.

“It is important to recognize and honor those serving on the frontlines to keep our community safe,” Vannoy said. “Both of this year’s recipients embody the courage and dedication of their profession and are great representatives of their departments.”

Sedlacek has worked with the department for 12 years as a firefighter, paramedic, driver/engineer and Captain of Community Risk Reduction Division for the past three years. He and his wife Courtni are parents of Makenzi, Caiden and Macy.

Sedlacek earned a bachelor’s degree in public safety and emergency management from Grand Canyon University. After graduating from Alabama Public Safety Leadership Academy in 2019, he is now attending the Managing Officer Program at National Fire Academy.

With Community Risk Reduction, he collaborated with school leaders and created a Family Risk Reduction program, now delivered to all Madison third-graders. Working with local engineers, Sedlacek helped to create the first Virtual Reality Program showing proper lifesaving techniques in real-life emergencies.

National Fire Academy recruited Sedlacek as an adjunct instructor. He has taught for the academy and presented to groups, such as Vision 20/20, Fire Rescue International and Alabama Fire Chiefs Association.

“’Spellcheck,’ as everyone calls Michael, has tremendous drive and enthusiasm for Community Risk Reduction and helping our citizens,” Fire Chief David Bailey said. “Daily, he puts his energy to work, making our citizens safer. We’re very fortunate to have Capt. Sedlacek here in Madison.”

In the police department, Dawe was hired in 2009 after serving in the U.S. Air Force from 2001 to 2007 and reaching the rank of Staff Sergeant as criminal investigator. He also worked in law enforcement in Florida.

In Madison, Dawe has worked as a patrol officer and School Resource Officer or SRO. In 2020, he was promoted to Sergeant and supervises all SROs.

“Sergeant Dawe has done an amazing job in the department,” Police Chief David Jernigan said. “This past year, he has far exceeded the already high expectations of Madison Police Department bestows upon him. Sergeant Dawe has proven himself worthy of this great honor in numerous instances.”

In 2019 SRO work, Dawe handled duties of two officers at Bob Jones High School. He responded to most calls related to Text-to-Protect messages, child abuse, narcotics possession, theft and harassment. He taught a class for prevention of drug and alcohol abuse, bullying and traffic stops.

In January 2020, Dawe investigated a burglary and criminal mischief case causing $20,000 damage at Bob Jones. Dawe reviewed surveillance video and discovered four men entering the school. He noted one offender’s unique pattern of walking.

Monitoring students on campus, he identified the student with the unusual gait. School administrators interviewed the student, who confessed and named the three other students.

Dawe has worked as Madison SWAT team’s Assistant Team Leader and performed as breacher, shield or initial entry operator. He helped plan several high-risk search warrants.

“Sergeant Dawe’s superior knowledge, dedication, character and exemplary performance reflect highly upon Madison Police Department and the City of Madison,” Jernigan said.

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