PCPD – Officer of the Year

Officer James Burchett

On November 11, 2014, the Plant City Police Department was dispatched to a structure fire. Upon arrival at the location, Officer James Burchett and Officer Jeffrey Hilsman rescued two young girls who were trapped in the residence which was engulfed in flames. The frantic young girls alerted the officers that their Mother was being held against her will inside the rear of the burning residence.

As Officers Burchett and Hilsman located and attempted to provide an escape route for the Mother and a male subject in the burning residence, they observed the man and woman in a physical altercation and could see that the woman’s clothing was saturated with blood and that she had several lacerations on her arms. The officers also observed a large knife on the bed next to the man and woman. The man refused attempts to peacefully resolve the violent confrontation and pulled the woman away from the exit provided by Officers Burchett and Hilsman, dragging her deeper into the raging fire.

Upon determination that the woman’s life was in eminent danger, Officers Burchett and Hilsman were called upon to make a split second decision regarding her safety and welfare. With precision accuracy, Officer Burchett ended the violent assault with a single shot from his duty weapon. Officers Burchett and Hilsman were then able to remove the woman from the burning structure and provide treatment for her serious stab wounds.

Due to the history of their turbulent relationship and the boyfriend’s violent nature, the victim told investigators that she is certain that she and her daughters would have died that day if not for the heroic actions of Officers Burchett and Hilsman.

The actions of Officers Burchett and Hilsman clearly demonstrated an exemplary level of professionalism and commitment to public service. Their training, team work, and tenacity enabled them to carry out such a daring rescue with clarity and precision.

Police Officer First Class James Burchett began his career with the Plant City Police Department in January of 2010. Officer Burchett is currently assigned to the Patrol Division and is a member of the Field Training Officer (FTO) program for the Department. Burchett first started in law enforcement in December of 2003 with the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Office in Virginia. He worked as a Patrol Deputy and was promoted to Investigations in 2008 where he was assigned to work narcotics and violent crimes.

Burchett has been married for 16 years to Lisa Burchett and together they have two wonderful daughters, Hannah (13) and Piper (6). Burchett is an avid fan of baseball and a diehard fan of the Tampa Bay Rays.

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