Carrboro and Chapel Hill name Police and Fire departments officers of the year


By Michelle Cassell
Managing Editor 

Chapel Hill Officer Jun Gim and Fire Captain Brian Dunagin have been named Officer of the Year and Firefighter of the Year, respectively. The officers were named at the Kiwanis Club annual holiday dinner and awards night held earlier in December.

Selection committees within the Chapel Hill Police Department and the Chapel Hill Fire Department each reviewed employee-submitted nominations before making decisions.

Officer Jum Gim Chapel Hill Police Department’s Officer of the Year.

Officer Jun Gim joined the Chapel Hill Police Department six years ago and serves as a Career Progression Officer. In his role, he helps fellow Guardians of the Hill navigate opportunities for ongoing education and career growth.

Lt. Greg Taylor told TLR, “Gim has a solid work ethic and consistently takes time to help junior officers, either in his official capacity as a Field Training Officer, or simply as an informal leader among his peers. He also served as the unofficial Chef on our shift and would regularly provide the team with delectable meals. His decision to help feed his shift helped me build camaraderie among the shift and contributed to the overall morale of the shift. I always appreciated that.”

“I can think of many other officers who deserve this award more than I do,” Gim said. “This will motivate me to work even harder and contribute even more to our team.”

Gim, who also serves as a Field Training Officer and a member of the department’s Special Emergency Response Team (SERT), also thanks those who shaped him.

“My supervisors, field trainers, and coworkers helped shape me into the officer I am today, and it is my privilege to be able to do the same for others,” Gim said.

The most difficult cases Gim says are,“I’ve always found crimes against children difficult. Often, they don’t have the means to ask for help. Being a father of two children it definitely tugs my heartstrings.”

Gim was a news producer for an international news agency for 14 years before joining the police department, according to Alex Carrasquillo Public Information Officer for Chapel Hill Police and Fire. Gim has a wife and two children.

Fire Captain Brian Dunagin Chapel Hill Fire Department’s Officer of the Year. Photo courtesy of Chapel Hill Fire Department.

Fire Captain Brian Dunagin, a 15-year veteran of the department, is widely respected.

“I have no doubt that Brian’s leadership in the last year saved lives on many emergency calls,” said Battalion Chief David Sasser. “Brian leads by example. He shares his knowledge and makes us better. He is dedicated to training and mentoring firefighters throughout the department, not just his crew members.”

“Captain Dunagin has a keen sense of awareness that allows him to make decisions rapidly on emergency scenes, which saves lives and belongings. That sense, along with his grounded, people-first demeanor, gives him the opportunity to teach everyone he meets, no matter what level of expertise they may have. He cares about people, and he effortlessly makes people feel cared for. You can trust what he says and does because he shows you through example.  What that creates are confident, highly trained firefighters,” Sasser told TLR.

“Considering all of the great people in this organization, it is so rewarding that my peers chose me for this honor,” Dunagin said. “It’s inspiring to come to work every day and see the growth of the many firefighters and staff who make up our great department.”

Carrboro Police Department’s Officer of the Year

(left to right) Sgt. Edgar Deharo Carrboro Police Department and Chief Chris Apack. Photo courtesy of Carrboro Police Department.

Sgt. Edgar Deharo was selected as the 2023 Carrboro Police Officer of the Year. Sgt. Deharo began his career with the Carrboro Police Department in 2015 and is currently assigned to the Patrol Division.

Deharo earned his rank as a sergeant in September of 2023. “He is being honored for his knowledge, expertise and leadership qualities,” said Chief Apack. “Deharo is hardworking and a mentor to many of the officers.”

Thanking Our Heroes

The Chamber For a Greater Chapel Hill-Carrboro will recognize Gim,Dunagin, and Deharo during its 2023 Salute to Community Heroes on January 17 at the Dean Dome. They will be among first responders honored at center court during the UNC basketball game, where family, friends, and supporters will cheer them on. UNC will be playing the Louisville Cardinals.

There is no monetary compensation. Each department recognizes the recipient with a plaque.

Michelle Cassell is a seasoned reporter who has covered everything from crime to hurricanes and local politics to human interest over the course of 35 years. As managing editor, she hopes to encourage writers of a wide range of backgrounds and interests in TLR’s coverage of Southern Orange County news. 

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