Thomas Longoris came face to face with death only two years after he graduated from the Kenya Police Training College.
A bloody confrontation with bandits left seven of his colleagues dead. Only Longoris and two other officers survived.
"We fought with the enemies in the North Eastern in 1993, just two years after I finished training at Kiganjo Training College," Longoris said yesterday.
But that did not dampen his resolve to stay true to the oath of service, to serve his nation with dedication and protect lives and property.
Years later, he was deployed to yet another violence hot spot, West Pokot,which was then scarred by cattle rustling.
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Yesterday, Longoris, 47, a Sergeant at Kapenguria Police Station where he has served for seven years, was feted for his efforts to end the crime.
He was honoured as a police officer who walked the extra mile in his line of duty during the Outstanding Police Service Awards (OPSA) administered by the Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) in Nairobi.
Longoris pleased his bosses for collecting intelligence on cattle rustling between the Pokot and Turkanas through interacting with the communities to ensure successful operations.
His formula for success is simple: Talking to the locals, prayer and fasting.
He was also described as a motivational speaker, a pastor and counsellor for his colleagues at the station and the community. He also counsels alcohol addicts in the county. He was applauded for being honest and for being highly regarded by junior and senior police officers.
Longoris was honoured alongside Simon Kimuyu (Deputy OCPD Ongata Rongai), Sergeant Stephen Kwambai of Mathare/Loingalayani camp and Jenifer Mutuku, a traffic police officer popularly known as Bensouda.
The four officers received the "Extra Mile" award. Ms Mutuku was praised by matatu operators for controlling traffic in the city. Kwambai was honoured for his efforts to rescue vulnerable children in Mathare slums. Kimuyu was feted for his efforts to fight corruption, crime and drug abuse.
Chief Inspector Andrew Kituku from Igembe South CID headquarters was the overall winner in the male category while Police Constable Roselyne Njuki from Mochongoi Police Station in Baringo County was the best female overall winner.
"Frequent killings were witnessed in Turkwel region in the border of Pokot and the Turkana community and several people lost their lives. It reached a point where I thought praying, interacting with the community and educating them on the vice was paramount. I knew God will intervene and that God's promises would not fail," Longoris said.
Having worked in conflict zones and survived death several times in the hands of the enemy, Longoris understands well the importance of peace.
His new station was his home area and he knows locals well. He hails from Kong'elai village in West Pokot County and therefore did everything possible to cultivate peace.
Likuyani Mountain, a prayer mountain in Western Kenya, became his regular place. "I visit Likuyani Mountain at least three days every year for prayer and fasting... I go there alone to pray for peace, day and night," Longoris explained.
Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery and police boss Joseph Boinnet said the police have made big progress in tackling rustling.