FRENCHBURG — James Botts, a long-time member of Operation UNITE’s Drug Task Force, was named Deputy of the Year by the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association earlier this fall.

Botts, who works through the Menifee County Sheriff’s Office, was honored for his humanitarian efforts following the devastating March 2 tornado outbreak.

“This young man stands out as a man who went above and beyond the call of duty,” Menifee County Judge-Executive James D. Trimble wrote in a letter of nomination.

During the first week after a Category 4 tornado tore through Menifee County, Botts worked 16-hour days helping with rescue, body recovery and security check point efforts.

“Then Deputy Botts laid his gun down and picked up a hammer for the next month, 12 hours a day, coordinating efforts with FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency), church groups, and volunteers all over the nation that were coming in for the cleanup and rebuilding stages for our county,” said Sheriff Rodney L. Coffey.

Botts took it upon himself to compile a list of all residences that were affected “to make sure the resources got to the neediest,” and was placed on the Menifee County Disaster Recovery Committee and the Habitat for Humanity Committee.

“He personally supervised and coordinated volunteers on over 25 different projects from cleaning up debris and … oversaw two complete homes rebuilt by donated money and volunteer labor,” Coffey said, noting he was working on two other homes at the time of the nomination.

Even after returning to work, Botts continued to volunteer up to 20 hours per week on coordinating relief projects.

“Deputy Botts has always understood the true spirit of the office of Sheriff and investing in your community,” Coffey said. “I have always been very proud of Deputy Botts, but the display of dedication and compassion that he showed in this disaster far exceeds any expectations that you would have on any law enforcement officer.”

The award was presented September 20 at the Kentucky Sheriff’s Association annual conference in Louisville.

Going above and beyond expectations has been a hallmark for Botts, whose concern for the growing drug problem led him to a law enforcement career more than 11 years ago.

“He stated that most of the kids he had graduated with were on drugs and wanted to make a difference in our community,” said Coffey, who made Botts a Reserve Deputy, and within a year promoted him to Deputy.

In 2003, Botts’ “initiative to make a difference” resulted in his being named Menifee County Deputy of the Year and he received the Governor’s Driving Enforcement Award.

The following year, Botts approached Coffey about being assigned to the new UNITE Drug Task Force. “He felt like he could make a bigger impact on the increasing drug problem by working full time with this task force,” the sheriff noted.

After Hurricane Katrina lashed the Gulf Coast in 2005, Botts was one of six deputies who took vacation time to volunteer to help a fellow sheriff’s office in Jackson County, Mississippi. Upon their return from the 10-day relief effort, Botts was recognized along with others with a Meritorious Service Citation and Senate Recognition.

Botts was recognized as Detective of the Year for Operation UNITE in 2006 for his outstanding achievements in drug enforcement efforts throughout Eastern Kentucky.

In 2010, Botts was one of two detectives assigned to the state’s newly created Prescription Drug Task Force. He worked with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and Federal Bureau of Investigation to stop the prescription pill pipeline from clinics in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

He was promoted to Area Supervisor for UNITE in 2011.

Over the years, Botts has worked with the Sheriff’s Military Camp, Kentucky Sheriff’s Association Boys & Girls Ranch, Camp UNITE, the Hooked on Fishing-Not on Drugs mentoring program, “Say Boo To Drugs” program, was chairman of Worship in the Wilderness Committee, and coordinated yearly youth concerts in the Menifee County.

“Deputy Botts is that rare breed of police officer who needs little supervision, and through self-motivation continues to investigate drug crimes in the area he serves with a passion,” said Dan Smoot, Vice President and Law Enforcement Director for UNITE. “He continually strives to make a difference through his work, not only in law enforcement but by his participation in the treatment and education components.”