NEWARK, Ohio, March 21, 2016 – When you do police work in a small town, you get to know the lay of the land really well. It gets to the point that you know details like what cars are supposed to be in what driveways at what time. That's why Fredericktown Police Officer Rene Joris, a 2015 Central Ohio Technical College (COTC) graduate, knew something wasn't right on December 20, 2015.
"I was patrolling a side street, and I caught a flicker out of the corner of my eye," said Joris. "I slowed down, and I observed a fire over to my right. It was approximately two feet by four feet on the side of the house."
The homeowners had no idea the fire was burning on their wooden porch. Joris notified the fire department and went to the front door of the home to see if anyone was inside.
"I made contact with the resident and advised them 'Hey, your porch is on fire.' They had no idea," said Joris. "I had them come outside. We went around the side of the house and shuttled several buckets of water, and we were able to put their fire out."
"Many guys would have probably just driven right by it, thinking it was the fire from a gas grill just flaming up," said Fredericktown Police Chief Roger Brown. "He followed his instinct. By turning around and going back, he prevented a lot of damage. He also potentially saved lives."
Joris received a commendation from his department for the work he did that night. "When there's a new officer, you have to recognize them for their actions. Obviously that was the first thing that came to mind when I heard about what Rene did," said Brown.
"I did what any other officer would do," said Joris. "I believe that we are here to save lives, protect lives and protect property."
Joris graduated from COTC's Basic Police Academy in May, 2015. The Academy is designed to prepare students to meet the requirements of the Ohio Peace Officer Training Commission. Students participate in more than 630 hours of training. "I loved the whole academy. It was a great experience, and I learned so much." said Joris.
Joris will be returning to campus tomorrow (Thursday, April 21) speak to students as part of an alumni panel discussion called The Reality of Law Enforcement: Risk and Reward. The event will allow students to learn from and network with graduates who are already out working in the law enforcement community. Central Ohio Technical College President Bonnie L. Coe, Ph.D., will also make a special announcement about plans to honor fallen Danville Police Officer Thomas Cottrell, a COTC graduate.
Central Ohio Technical College opened in 1971 and is celebrating its 45th anniversary in 2016. COTC is a fully accredited, public college dedicated to providing high-quality, accessible programs of technical education in response to current and emerging employment needs, as well as encouraging the professional development of students, staff, faculty and administrators to assist them in achieving their maximum potential. COTC is the only technical college in Ohio operating four full-service campus locations: Newark, Coshocton, Knox and Pataskala.