MERIDIAN TOWNSHIP - This year's Meridian Township Police Awards honored not only officers, but also citizens who have made integral contributions to the community.
Among these citizens were Mike and Sheila Hughes, who found ten-year-old CJ Riemer in their backyard after he went missing after taking a joyride on his scooter.
"One evening, it was just before New Year's Eve, we got a call that CJ was missing and he decided to go out on a scooter ride," said CJ's mom, Cheri.
The Riemer's were obviously concerned about CJ. The worry was further intensified by the fact that CJ is a child with special needs.
The Riemer's saving grace was the Hughes' decision to get involved.
"I decided to call 9-1-1 and within 30 seconds to a minute," said Mike Hughes. "There were five squad cars representing 3 different areas: Meridian Township, Bath Township, and East Lansing."
"The police department were having difficulty finding him," said Meridian Township Police Chief David Hall. "In fact, we didn't without the help of the citizens. We even sent a canine out to do a track and it just wasn't working for us."
The Riemers were pleased with the response from police.
"I think the people in this community, we're pretty lucky to have the police force that we have because they were on top of it," Riemer said. "We just had a--you get a call like that and it's very emotional, but we just had this surreal calm."
CJ was the guest of honor at this year's police ceremony, and dressed appropriately in his police officers hat.
The Hughes appreciate the recognition of police department, but said helping out CJ was simply an action of common sense.
"We felt really honored, but we also felt like we shouldn't be honored, that it should be something someone does automatically and not for an award," said Mike's wife, Sheila. "We're glad that we helped and he got back with his parents."
Chief Hall says people like the Hughes--citizens who take action--are often more important than they realize.
"I'll say this until the day I retire, police officers can't do it by themselves," Hall said. "We need citizens out there, eyes and ears giving us a telephone call, passing on information."