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Public safety officers honored

By Staff | Nov 15, 2018

Every year, FOS Furniture at 790 Del Prado Blvd. N. holds an after-hours event for the Cape Coral Chamber of Commerce that also serves as an appreciation for public safety personnel from the Cape Coral Police and Fire Departments and the Lee County Sheriff’s Office.

On Thursday, one from each agency was honored as their respective department’s Officer of the Year, receiving a plaque and appreciation for all they have done.

Pat Corlew of FOS and the chamber started the event in 2002 in response to the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on our country to give recognition to city first responders who put their lives on the line each day. The first two years he recognized only the Cape Coral Police and Fire Departments before adding Lee County Sheriff’s Office a couple years later.

“Myself and the Chamber decided to support our heroes a little more. They have a tough job,” said Corlew, whose son has been with the fire department for 25 years. “I hear some of the things they go through with car accidents and I thought we should address that. I enjoy doing it.”

This year’s recipients are Officer Stephen Strobe of the CCPD, Engineer Jason Spinner of the CCFD, and Sgt. Eric Nalewaik for the LCSO. All of them were named for different reasons, whether for all-around ability, or a single incident that made them stand out above the rest.

Scrobe helped put together the first Gulf Coast K9 competition in January and has sponsored numerous charitable organizations that also helped get the city’s first no-kill animal shelter off the ground. He was a finalist for this year’s Law and Order Ball.

Spinner was named for his all-around ability and leadership. He took on the job of being a pension board trustee, Telestaff administrator and a Local 2424 shift representative. He was raised for his work ethic and desire for change and progress within the department.

Nalewaik was feted for his bravery following a plane crash in 2017 near Chico’s in Fort Myers.

Nalewaik, a 23-year veteran of law enforcement, was able to save the pilot from the wreckage of the plane, who sustained serious, but not life-threatening injuries, but was unable to save a second victim after the plane was engulfed in flames. It was believed that person died on impact.

Strobe could not attend the event. Spinner and Nalewaik each credited their respective agencies in their earning the honor.

“Though my name might be on the plaque, it’s a testament to the people around me and those who made me who I am today. So, I can’t do what I do without them” Spinner said.

“It’s an honor for any of our first responders to be recognized. It’s a job we do every day from the heart, not for the acknowledgment,” Nalewaik said.