TEMPLE TERRACE - Stephen Owsinski, the 2006 Temple Terrace Police Officer of the Year, was permanently sidelined in 2008 following a bout with cancer that ultimately resulted in the amputation of a leg.
But he managed to be front and center May 2 at Temple Terrace City Hall when a young officer he trained as a recruit fresh out of Pasco - Hernando Community College's Police Academy was given the Thomas L. Lewis award as the department's 2012 Police Officer of the Year.
Officer Tiffany Morris, who on that same day also was promoted to the status of Senior Police Officer, began her career five years ago.
Owsinski remembers it well.
"Police Officer Morris was an absolute pleasure to have in my police cruiser and appropriately hungry to learn law enforcement, albeit with humanistic qualities often lost in the process," he said. "She's done quite well for herself; just ask her peers and the public she serves."
Morris, 31, credits several of her in-laws whose careers were in law enforcement for sparking her interest in the field.
"They loved what they did for a living and had many friendships they acquired over the years," said Morris, a resident of Trinity.
When asked why she thinks she received the award, she said she's always been in the department's top ranking when it comes to her specific job expectations and accomplishments. But she believes it was more for her overall demeanor.
"I think it was more for my positive attitude," Morris said. "I love what I do and I think that motivates others."
Temple Terrace Police Chief Ken Albano, who presented the award to Morris, said he's very "proud" of her.
"She has been an important part of our department for several years now and has proven herself to be an outstanding law-enforcement officer," Albano said in a written statement. "With her dedication, skills and hard work, she's a great example of what the Temple Terrace Police Department is all about."
In addition, In addition, Temple Terrace Firefighter/Engineer Benjamin Blethen, 30, was named the 2012 Firefighter of the Year.
Both will be honored May 23 at the annual Our Heroes Luncheon at the Tampa Convention Center. The event is sponsored by Sykes Enterprises, Inc.
Joyce McKenzie can be reached at JoyceCMcKenzie@gmail.com.