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For the second time in three years, the Polk County Police Chiefs Association’s Officer of the Year Award for small and medium-sized departments went to a member of the Haines City Police Department, but this time, the honor was twofold.
Officer Sean Bruner and Officer William Tucker were each recognized with the distinction during the annual award banquet at Cleveland Heights Golf Course in Lakeland on Thursday, Jan. 20. The two officers were honored for their commitment to serving and protecting their communities.
“When you put on the badge, you don’t do it for the recognition or the accolades, but because you want to make a difference,” Chief Jim Elensky said. “Officer Bruner and Officer Tucker provide exemplary service, are a reflection of what makes our department great and are a big reason why we’ve been recognized as one of Florida’s safest cities for three years in a row.”
In August 2021, Officers Bruner and Tucker were among several officers honored by Mayor Morris West for their brave actions during a June 14, 2021 incident. Early that morning, Mayor West woke up to find that two people he did not know, one armed with a large fixed-blade knife, had invaded his property, entered his screened-in lanai, and were just feet away from where he and his wife were sleeping.
The incident started when Officer Tucker checked on a suspicious vehicle at a construction site. Sensing his presence, the suspect then drove and struck Officer Tucker’s vehicle, which prompted a pursuit.
Another pursuit led to this suspect crashing his vehicle, causing it to catch fire and him to flee the scene with his female accomplice. After running into a wooded area, jumping a fence, and cutting a hole in the mayor’s screened-in lanai, the scene had shifted to Mayor West’s property. Officers took charge of the scene and an agency K-9 bit the knife-wielding man before he and his accomplice were arrested.
“For city officials, residents and business owners, the commitment of our first responders is the reason that we can feel safe at home, at work and in our daily lives,” said Edward Walker Dean, City Manager. “Our police officers are so selfless in what they do on a daily basis and it’s heartwarming to see them get some recognition.”
In addition to that incident, Officers Bruner and Tucker go above and beyond to make sure Haines City’s roads and neighborhoods are safe. Officer Bruner has been a member of the Haines City Police Department since the spring of 2019 and has taken the initiative to identify drivers who are operating vehicles under the influence.
Bruner understands the dangers of impaired driving and is dedicated to preventing senseless tragedies. Since January 2021, Officer Bruner has made more than 80 arrests for driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
“As police officers, our goal is to come home safely every day,” Bruner said. “One of the most dangerous places for people to be is on the road and I try to do what I can to make sure the drivers who use them get home safely as well. To be recognized is a tremendous honor.”
A member of the Patrol Division and the agency since early 2015, Officer Tucker is committed to making sure violent criminals are off the street. A leader among his peers, Officer Tucker relentlessly and continuously follows up on those with warrants and makes arrests that protect Haines City’s neighborhoods and residents.
Officer Tucker is committed to his role at the Haines City Police Department and gives 100% effort for the entirety of his shift. Since the start of 2021, Officer Tucker has personally arrested more than 70 criminals with warrants.
“I became a police officer because I wanted to help people,” Tucker said. “It’s awesome to be recognized for the job we do. People should be able to feel safe in their homes and in their neighborhoods and if I can help them do that in some way, that’s rewarding enough.”