Christopher Michael Lawton, age 41, died on Monday, March 12, 2018 in the line of duty as a Reserve Police Officer. Lawton, who served full-time as Deputy Chief with Zachary Fire Department, was a dedicated public servant in Zachary, Louisiana for over twenty years. Chief Lawton started his first responder career as a volunteer with District Six Fire Department in 1997 as a firefighter/operator. He became a full-time firefighter with the Zachary Fire Department in 1998 and worked his way through the ranks. Chief Lawton received his Fire Science degree from LSU in 1999. At the time of his death, Chief Lawton held the position of Deputy Chief, the second highest rank within the Zachary Fire Department. He was also an Arson Investigator for the City of Zachary.
Chief Lawton also served as a Zachary Police Department Reserve Officer, joining the Police Department in May 2008. In this volunteer capacity, he worked part-time without pay for a decade. He was a fully certified commissioned officer who received the same training as full-time officers and was a trusted veteran of the police force.
During Chief Lawton’s career, he received numerous awards including: Medical Life Saves, Fire Stops, Unit and Crew Citations. In 2017, Chief Lawton became a Post Firearm Training Instructor. He was an active and founding member of the Zachary Firefighter Association, Local 4644. Chief Lawton was a member of the International Association of Arson Investigators, Zachary Police Reserves, Zachary United Methodist Church and Zachary Cross Fit.
This award was originally funded through individual donations received in memory of Chief Lawton by members of his community upon the recommendation of his children.
The Christopher Lawton Memorial scholarship is awarded annually to student who is the child of a law enforcement officer or firefighter lost or permanently disabled in the line of duty. The scholarship award is based on financial need as well as academic merit and other achievements including demonstrated leadership and a strong commitment to service in the community. While a declared major is not required, preference will be given to eligible candidates majoring in programs related to first responder fields (i.e. fire services, criminal justice, etc.) Preference will also be given to eligible students from or residing and attending school in Louisiana.
The Christopher Lawton Memorial Scholarship, in the amount of $1,000, is awarded for a single academic year.
PLEASE NOTE: The submission deadline is July 1 for the academic year beginning in the Fall.
Applicants must be dependent children, stepchildren or legally adopted children of an eligible law enforcement officer or firefighter who was killed or totally and permanently disabled in the line of duty.
- “Line of duty”means any action that an officer is obligated or authorized by law, rule, regulation, or written condition of employment service to perform, or for which the officer is compensated by the public agency he serves.
- The term “killed in the line of duty” means a law enforcement officer or firefighter who has died as a direct or proximate result of personal injury or disease sustained or aggravated in the line of duty. This includes victim law enforcement officers/firefighters who, while in an off duty capacity, act in response to a law violation, or emergency threatening life or property, provided the government agency employing such individual certifies the death or disability as being in the line of duty.
- The term “in the line of duty” shall also mean a volunteer or professional law enforcement officer or firefighter serving in reserve duty with the United States military forces and is killed or disabled in the line of duty in their capacity as a law enforcement officer or firefighter
- The term “total and permanent disability in the line of duty” means an eligible law enforcement officer or eligible firefighter who has received an injury, sustained or aggravated in the line of duty, which renders them unable to work as a law enforcement officer or firefighter as defined and verified by their department.
- Such injury or illness must have rendered the eligible officer or firefighter unable to work or earn money because the injury or illness is expected to continue indefinitely or result in death.
- The applicant must submit a physician’s certification of the “total and permanent disability.” The physician must be a doctor of medicine or osteopathy who is legally authorized to practice in a state.
- The applicant must have been conceived prior to the death or total and permanent disability of the eligible officer or firefighter.
- An applicant who is an adopted child must have been adopted by the eligible officer or firefighter prior to, or the adoption process must have begun prior to, the date of the death or total and permanent disability.
- An applicant who is a stepchild must have been listed as a dependent on the eligible officer or firefighter’s federal and state income tax returns in the income tax years immediately prior to the death or total and permanent disability.
- Candidates must be pursuing their first Bachelor’s degree, Associate’s degree, or Certificate at any accredited college, university or technical/vocational institution in the United States that participates in the federal financial aid programs offered through the U.S. Department of Education.
- Candidate must be enrolled as a full-time student during the entire academic year.
- Candidate must maintain a 2.7 out of a 4.0 grade point average, or the equivalent as documented by the Office of the Registrar at the academic institution.
- Candidate must be making satisfactory academic progress toward the completion of their program as defined and documented by the academic institution.
- Candidate must be a citizen or permanent resident of the United States attending school in the United States.
- Current First Responders Children’s Foundation officers and employees, and members of their immediate families are not eligible to apply.
Disbursement of Funds
Annual awards will be sent directly to the appropriate office of the recipient’s school by way of a check made payable ot the school on behalf of the scholarship recipient. The annual award will be distributed in two (2) equal payments – one for the fall semester and one for the spring semester. Disbursement of spring semester payment is contingent upon verification from the academic institution that the student has maintained the required GPA and is enrolled full-time for the spring semester.
PLEASE NOTE: To receive the second award disbursement, it is the scholarship recipient’s responsibility to submit an academic transcript (or other verification from the academic institution) no later than January 15th to the First Responders Children’s Foundation offices verifying GPA for the semester just completed as well as proof of full-time enrollment for the current or upcoming semester. Spring payments cannot be made until such verification has been received by the Foundation.