Skip to main content

WSSU Police Department honors outstanding officers, employees at first awards gala ceremony

Several Winston-Salem State University campus police officers and employees were recognized for their outstanding service and going above and beyond the call of duty during the inaugural WSSU Police and Public Safety Awards Gala Ceremony.

The event was held in the Cleon F. Thompson Student Center on Dec. 19 and featured food, music, a guest speaker, history of the department and the highly-anticipated award presentations. WSSU Chief Amir Henry said the department has presented awards before, but this was the first time in the department’s history to host an awards gala ceremony.

“It’s no secret, we are in a challenging profession during challenging times,” Amir said. “Having this event was important because we want to acknowledge all the great work that our officers, the administration and leadership is doing, and the families and friends who support them in their efforts to keeping this campus safe. Anytime you get a chance to highlight people and give them some praise, it’s a great time.”

Winston-Salem State University Chancellor Dr. Anthony Graham, who served as guest speaker at the event, summed it up best when he said, “Our faculty, staff and students can’t produce at the level they are producing if they don’t feel safe and if they don’t feel protected. There is no way in the world you can write a grant proposal for $2M if you’re looking out your window because you’re fearful that someone will bother you or attack you. There is no way we can do the work we do with respect to our students if we’re uncomfortable in our environment. We’re able to produce at a high level because of the safety that you provide us on a daily basis.”

Award recipients
The following officers were recognized:

Officer of the Year: Jaie Johnson, presented by Captain Sharieka Clifton. Johnson’s career with the WSSU Police Department (WSSUPD) began in August 2018. Johnson serves as criminal investigator, community engagement officer as well as an interim sergeant. Clifton read that Johnson is “more than willing to take on the challenges, goes above and beyond the call of duty, is a great asset, plans and executes great ideas, teaches with care and is a great communicator.” Johnson, who is a WSSU alumnus, was also recognized for earning an intermediate certificate for law enforcement, which is an advanced certificate from the state of North Carolina.

Jaie Johnson

“Everybody here is good at something, so I can’t be good without the support of the team,” Johnson said. “Where I lack, they pick up and vice versa. I think it’s humbling that they think that of me. I am happy and grateful.”

Officer of the Year recipients must be a sworn employee with at least two years of service who has displayed commendable performance of their duties. The recipient must be nominated by their co-workers, have a vast knowledge of department and university policies and procedures, display loyalty, integrity and dependability, and carry a positive attitude.


New Officer of the Year: Tyler Rothrock, presented by Clifton. Rothrock has been with the WSSUPD since October 2022 and has proven to be a great asset, Clifton said. She said he quickly diffused a potentially dangerous situation when a fight among students broke out. After further investigation, it was discovered a weapon was present. “His quick response prevented a tragedy,” Clifton said. “Students and staff, parents and community members posted on social media, and he got praise and appreciation.” During field training, Rothrock showcased a willingness to learn and has a go-getter mentality. He proved himself a skilled marksman in firearms qualifications. New Officer of the Year recipients must have at least on year of experience, but no more than two years, demonstrate outstanding performance of their duties, and establish exemplary rapport and relationships with their co-workers, university faculty, staff, and students.


Tyler Rothrock

Employee of the Year: Glenda Cornell, presented by Deputy Chief Kelly White. Cornell began her career with the WSSUPD in 2007 as administrative support associate. She is the longest-serving employee in the department. Though assigned to the chief, she is tasked with many different responsibilities, White said. “She is the glue that keeps the department together. She handles business. She has a lot on her plate and juggles it all,” he said. She is working with her third chief since starting. Employee of the Year recipients can be any WSSUPD employee, sworn or non-sworn, who has been nominated by their co-workers for their outstanding work performance. They provide an enthusiastic attitude in the performance of their duties and avoid complaining and negative grumbling while encouraging the same outlook to those around them. 


Glenda Cornell

Above and Beyond Award: Ashley Duggins, presented by White. Duggins started in June 2022 as accreditation manager for the department. She is essential in managing and maintaining the compliance files. She is highly organized, motivated and keeps the agency on track, White said. She also assists with coverage in the communications center and volunteers with department events and at local elementary schools. The Above and Beyond Award is given to an employee who has gone beyond the call of duty to provide outstanding service and support to the agency or the university. This support can be achieved through several means including using personal funds to assist citizens, co-workers or other university member, taking significant additional investigative steps that lead to arrests or prosecutions, and volunteer or program work. 


Ashley Duggins

Service Excellence Awards: Eddie Ables, presented by Henry. Ables, who works in IT, has given significant aid and assistance to bringing the agency’s goal to fruition in ensuring superb public safety services are streamlined. The Service Excellence Award is presented to a department division, section, or unit; WSSU employee or department; or community organization that has provided outstanding support to the agency throughout the year. This support can be offered in a variety of ways including volunteer time, active presence at WSSUPD community outreach events and initiatives, or financial relief.

Service Excellence Award – Deputy Chief Kelly White, presented by Henry. To his surprise, White was presented a Service Excellence Award. Henry noted White’s historic milestone for the WSSUPD. White graduated with great distinction from the 286th session of the FBI National Academy last summer at the renowned National Academy in Quantico, Virginia. White’s completion of the program makes him the first officer ever to accomplish this feat. By joining the ranks of a select group of FBI National Academy graduates in the UNC System, he has achieved an extraordinary accomplishment that only a fraction of law enforcement officers nationwide has had the opportunity to pursue, Henry said. He also described White as a jack of all trades. He’s been involved in training to staff, beautification efforts and various initiatives of the department.

“I’ve been around on many different campuses, and WSSU is different,” White said. He pointed out the closeness that the WSSUPD has with the community it serves, the student engagement and the programs that are unique to the WSSU campus. “You do what you do absolutely well.” 

Honorable Mentions: Ovid White, Elizabeth Simmons, Jaie Johnson and Tyler Rothrock, presented by Kelly White. WSSU suffered the tragic loss of two students, Jordan Staton and Payton Ogletree. White and Simmons responded to the scene involving Staton and administered CPR until EMS arrived, Kelly White said. The two were commended by EMS and the responding fire department. Rothrock and Johnson responded to the scene involving Ogletree and attempted life-saving measures as well. “Responding to these types of calls are never easy,” White said. Despite the situation, these officers acted professional and assisted without delay, he said. A moment of silence was held for the two students.

Years of Service awards were also presented to the following:
  • Two years: Deputy Chief Kelly White, Sergeant Tanji Washington, Officer Richardro Baldwin and Officer Byron White.
  • Five years: Sergeant Michael Rau, Investigator Jaie Johnson, Officer Elizabeth Simmons, Officer Ovid White and Logistics Coordinator Victor Wright.
  • 10 years: Sergeant Ovid White, Sergeant Michael Rau, Investigator Jaie Johnson, Officer Elizabeth Simmons and Logistics Coordinator Victor Wright 
  • 15 years: Administrative Assistant Glenda Cornell.

Click here to view photos of the inaugural awards gala.


More News

Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi to install Chapter 361 at WSSU on Jan. 30

The Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi will install its 361st chapter at Winston-Salem University this month. Founded in 1897 at the University of Maine, Phi Kappa Phi is the nation’s oldest and most selective all-discipline collegiate honor society recognizing academic excellence.

Read Moreabout Honor Society of Phi Kappa Phi to install Chapter 361 at WSSU on Jan. 30

CollegeNET ranks WSSU No. 2 in the nation for being a social mobility innovator

Technology provider CollegeNET ranks Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) No. 2 in the United States for being a driver of social mobility for its students. Social mobility, as defined by CollegeNET, involves delivering a high-quality college education at an affordable price to create opportunities for students to move from one socioeconomic class to another.

Read Moreabout CollegeNET ranks WSSU No. 2 in the nation for being a social mobility innovator

WSSU junior is first recipient of motorsports scholarship that aims to diversify the industry

Ask Virgil Bryant what he likes about motorsports racing and without hesitation he starts to rattle off: it’s the smell of the fuel, the revving of the engines, the squealing of the tires, the drivers – everything. Equally important, he said it was the most fun he had in years when he attended his first NASCAR race.

Read Moreabout WSSU junior is first recipient of motorsports scholarship that aims to diversify the industry