OREM -- In early 2011, police officers from across the state began hunting for child porn users. One of those officers was Orem Sgt. Josh Adams, who had only just been assigned to the sex crimes detective division.
The statewide efforts eventually netted 39 child-porn related arrests, and Adams recalled Friday his involvement in the capture of Brenden Morrey, which was one of the more serious arrests made during the sting, as he had been both using and manufacturing child porn. Thanks to efforts by Adams and others, Morrey eventually was convicted of attempted sodomy on a child, attempted aggravated sex abuse of a child, three counts of sex abuse of a child and five counts of sexual exploitation of a minor.
While the incident was all part of the job for Adams, it was one of the many things that led to his earning Orem's prestigious Baker Award in December. The award is named after LeGrand J. and Beth W. Baker and honors police officers for exemplary service. Orem Sgt. Craig Martinez said potential recipients of the award are nominated by fellow members of the police department, then chosen by a group of administrators and regular citizens from the community.
Martinez said Adams received the award for being extremely dedicated while fulfilling a variety of different roles in the department.
"He's kind of done it all," Martinez said. "And they don't just let anybody do all those different kinds of assignments within the department."
Adams began working his way through the department 12 years ago. The Orem native and father of four girls said he had always considered police work, but after returning from an LDS mission decided it was time to get serious about a career. As he explored his options, Adams said his brother -- Lehi officer Joe Adams, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop in 2001 -- inspired him. Adams was first hired on in Springville and joined the Orem Police Department about a year later.
"I wanted to do something where I felt like I was contributing," he remembered.
During the last 12 years, Adams has worked on patrol, as a member of the major crimes task force, on the SWAT team and in other roles. Now, as a sex crimes detective, he routinely investigates crimes related to child abuse and child porn. It's a job that many people might shy away from, but one that Adams has excelled at because, according to Martinez, he helps people open up.
"It's about getting people to feel comfortable with you," Martinez said. "Not only children, but suspects. Sometimes we know who the offender is, but you have very little physical evidence. Josh is very good at making people feel comfortable around him, and it's very effective."
Somewhat surprisingly, Adams describes this process as "helping" people on both sides of the law. As one might expect of a sex crimes detective, he frequently interviews children and abuse victims. He said after what those people have gone through, one of the standout parts of his job is helping them see that recovery is possible.
"The biggest rewards are when you can help," he added.
But while Adams expressed satisfaction that predators like Morrey are behind bars, he also said that in a way he helps them as well.
"It's helping the person who did it tell us what happened," Adams said. "Helping people recognize the error of their ways. They truly feel a tremendous amount of guilt and regret about what happened."
Adams expressed sympathy for everyone involved in the cases he investigates and described his job as both challenging and an opportunity for growth. He said he was humbled that his fellow officers -- who he said work just as hard as he does -- nominated him for the Baker Award. He added that one of the other perks of his job is working with great people.
"The No. 1 outstanding thing is I've always enjoyed everybody that I've been able to work with," he said.
Though Adams was the recipient of the top award handed out by the Orem Department of Public Safety, several other individuals also were honored for their dedication and exemplary work. At an awards luncheon in December, Jeff Hill was named volunteer of the year, dispatcher Kathy Fisher was named civilian employee of the year, detective Bill Cook was named police officer of the year and Cameron Monahan was named firefighter of the year.