Local trooper earns award

Ohio State Highway Patrol Trooper Dustin Payne was awarded Jackson District Trooper of the Year Award in December and is now up for the State Trooper of the Year Award, which will be announced in February.

Payne was one of eight to win the District Trooper of the Year Award. The Marietta post lies in the Jackson District, which is made up of Marietta, Athens, Gallipolis, Portsmouth, Chillicothe and Ironton.

“There are at least 100 to 150 troopers in the district,” said Payne, 30. “There are some really good troopers in our district. To be chosen out of them all is a great achievement. It’s very humbling and very exciting. It’s a huge honor.”

Ohio State Highway Patrol Sgt. Garic Warner said he was ecstatic about Payne winning the District Trooper award.

“It’s just amazing,” he said. “We’re kind of an out of the way place.”

Warner said Payne was a very deserving trooper.

“He faced a wide variety of situations working in Dayton (before coming to the Marietta post),” Warner said. “All I had to do was tweak him a little bit. He’s such a self-starter. He’s his own critic. He’s got that hard working mentality.”

Payne was awarded the Post Trooper of the Year Award in November, which made him eligible for the district award.

“Every post in the state selects a winner,” Payne said, adding that every trooper at the post gets a vote.

“Your peers are voting on you,” he said. “The most humbling part is that people think that much of you to vote for you.”

Payne said there are around 55 post trooper award winners. All award winners are then automatically eligible for the district award.

Payne was quick to point out that three of the last five district award winners have come from the Marietta Post.

“It’s really neat,” he said. “We’ve got a great post.”

Warner shared Payne’s sentiment. He said that a previous State Trooper of the Year Award winner, Trooper Caleb Courson, was on the shift he covers, as well as Payne, who is eligible to win the state award.

“I’m fortunate enough to have them on my shift,” he said. “I’m definitely spoiled. It’s pretty rare you get to work with a State Trooper of the Year.”

To be awarded requires more than just a good work ethic. The committee takes into consideration community involvement, dedication to the job, dedication to the core values of the patrol, as well as doing well in an interview process.

Marietta Post Commander Lt. Carlos Smith said any time a trooper was awarded, it’s a special affair.

“It’s a great honor for the entire post,” he said. “There’s great commitment in making Washington and Morgan counties a safe place to live. We’re especially proud of (Payne) for that…It’s a great award and he should be proud.”

The decision for the State Trooper of the Year Award will be revealed on Feb. 7 at a state banquet. Payne’s superiors are pulling for him to win.

“I work with Dustin a lot. Any opportunity I get to toot his horn I do because he won’t,” Warner said. “He will shake off compliments. He’s a phenomenal guy. There’s not too many like Trooper Payne.”