COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost recognized the significant contributions of public safety officers at his annual Law Enforcement Conference on Monday.
One of the Ohio officers honored was Toledo Police Detective William "Jay" Gast, who was given the Distinguished Law Enforcement Lifetime Achievement Award.
In nearly 33 years with the Toledo police, Gast worked as a street cop, in vice narcotics and on the persons-crimes and cold case teams, excelling in all roles. He was honored with a distinguished service medal and medal of valor for twice saving people from burning homes; for his help putting numerous murderers and rapists behind bars, he earned letters of appreciation from prosecutors, court officials and civilians. As one judge wrote in crediting Gast’s skill and dedication: “A case can be won or lost before the crime is ever committed.”
Another local officer recognized at the conference was Chief John Orzech of the Sandusky Police Department, who was given the Mark Losey Distinguished Law Enforcement Service Award.
When Lt. Orzech was promoted to chief in 2013, community-police relations were strained. From the start of his tenure, though, the chief made it a priority to build trust. Officers have been pushed to get out of their cruisers, interact with youth and others, and humanize the badge. And Chief Orzech has led by example: He regularly volunteers in the community, including delivering food for Meals on Wheels and taking part in advocacy events such as Polar Plunge and Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. The Marine veteran also is a vocal proponent for ending gender violence and has become godfather to countless children through his church involvement.
The 2020 conference, held virtually, also included training on how to lead during trying times, solve cold cases with the help of advances in DNA testing and other forensic techniques, and build trust in the communities officers protect.
Read more about the other Ohio officers recognized here.