A Hamilton County Sheriff’s Deputy’s quick response to an active shooter at Cincinnati’s Fifth Third Bank Center last year earned him the Rotary Club of Cincinnati’s 2019 Award for Valor. Deputy James York was presented the award on Thursday, Aug. 15, at the annual Rotary Awards program honoring significant achievement in the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office.
The program was at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza Hotel in downtown Cincinnati, less than a block away from the Fifth Third Center on Fountain Square where a man with a hand gun killed three people and injured two before he was killed by responding officers on Sept. 6, 2018.
Other honorees were Fiscal Officer Kevin Horn, Administrative Excellence Award, Corporal Donald Maher, Superior Achievement Award, and Sgt. Michelle Moore, Career Enhancement Award.
The 2019 Rotary Awards honor members of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office for significant achievement. Chief Deputy Mark Schoonover introduced the awardees.
Deputy York was doing routine patrol at the Hamilton County facilities in downtown Cincinnati near Fountain Square when he heard the Cincinnati Police Dispatch about an active shooter at the Fifth Third Banking Center. “Imagine yourself in his place,” said Schoonover. “You hear that dispatch, and now you hear active gunfire.” York’s response was immediate. He retrieved his M-16 rifle and ran toward the trouble. York and Cincinnati Police Officer Eric Kaminsky entered the bank lobby and were joined by more Cincinnati Police officers, all closing in on the still-shooting gunman, who was killed by Cincinnati Police.
The whole thing lasted 4 minutes and 38 seconds, from the gunman’s first shot inside the bank lobby until he was killed. “Deputy York put himself in harm’s way to do what he could to end the situation,” said Schoonover. The crowd of 135 gave York a standing ovation. York was the lone Hamilton County Sheriff’s officer on the scene that day, but he carried with him the entire team, he told the crowd. The Rotary award came on York’s 29th anniversary in the Sheriff’s Office. “Everyone (of the Sheriff’s personnel) here today trained me,” York said. “That’s why I was able to do what I did.”
Fiscal Officer Kevin Horn received the Administrative Excellence Award. Schoonover said Horn manages the Sheriff’s Office budget of about $75 million and oversees the fiscal personnel for the Corrections, Court Services, Road Patrol and Employee Service divisions. “He also acts as trainer, mentor, supervisor and mediator,” said Schoonover. “Kevin Horn has been a steadfast, cool-headed, consistent and determined leader at a time when the Sheriff’s Office is facing possibly crippling budget cuts.” Schoonover said Horn spearheaded an initiative to install video visitation kiosks in the jail that would increase security and efficiency and eliminate paper waste, allowing inmates to access digital forms for grievances, social service and commissary needs. Horn also is an indispensable part of contract negotiations throughout the Sheriff’s Office, including the myriad contracts with local townships and private vendors, including jail contracts for medical care, food and communication services.
Corporal Donald Maher received the Superior Achievement Award. In Corporal Maher’s 27 years with the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office, he arrested some of the area’s most violent criminals, said Schoonover. He also is a model front line leader who is enthusiastic, humble and pragmatic. Maher was promoted to Court Services in 1996 and received the rank of corporal in 2014. He worked with the US Marshal’s Office for almost three years before being assigned this year as supervising corporal of 14 deputies in three shifts. He has an approachable leadership style that focuses on teamwork and defined goals. Maher is always looking for ways to be more efficient and effective while keeping morale high, said Schoonover.
Sgt. Michelle Moore received the Career Enhancement Award. As a leader in the Intake Section of Hamilton County Jail, Sgt. Moore trains others and keeps track of all updated and confidential information. She has assumed leadership and volunteer positions with the Emergency Response Team dealing with jail-related emergency situations. Sgt. Moore is a graduate of the Public Leadership Academy from Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs in Columbus, Ohio. This grueling 11-week course ranges from physical fitness training to education and leadership training. Moore is the first female in the history of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office to participate in this course. She relocated to Columbus for the course, and, when not in class, she volunteered at the Columbus Food Bank and helped to clean and repair the Teen Runaway Shelter.
The Rotary Club of Cincinnati initiated the Rotary Awards more than a decade ago to honor excellence in key public service professions. Awards honor members of the Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office (August), Cincinnati Firefighters (October), Cincinnati Police (April) and Cincinnati teachers (July).