The Valdosta Daily Times
Filled with stress and danger on any given day, the job of a police officer can appear more rough than rewarding at times, which prompted the Valdosta Police Department to recognize some of the city's best police officers Tuesday at the City Hall Annex.
The ceremony was about making sure all of the right people received official recognition, said Police Chief Brian Childress. People directed their gratitude toward Childress more times than was necessary when he was commander of the patrol division, he said at the ceremony's start.
“These are the people that do the job, earn the respect and solve the crimes,” said Childress. “Don't thank me - thank them.”
The Lifesaving award went to Officer Jesus Arreola who, during the early hours of January 2013, aided a victim of hypothermia after noticing that the woman's door was ajar. Officer Stacy Brogdon also won the Lifesaving award for aiding in the resuscitation of an infant in November 2012.
The Purple Heart award when to Officer Alvin May who, while shopping with his family at Wal-mart in January 2013, aided detaining a suspected shoplifter that became violent and inflicted a leg-fracturing blow to the off-duty officer's leg. May also received the Merit award.
“Thank you to the traffic unit, which I work with everyday,” said May as he started his speech. “We all try to take care of each other so that we're not alone out here. I'd also like to thank my wife, so that I don't get in trouble. Being a member of the traffic unit and a drug recognition expert and traffic accident re-constructionist for the city, we spend a lot of time away from home and away from our kids. My wife has put up with me for almost 10 years.”
The Top Gun award went to Sgt. Jay Wolfe who received the fastest time, two minutes and two seconds, with 100 percent shooting accuracy during the 2012 physical agility course.
Detective Robert Raymond received the Merit award for taking over a robbery victim's foot chase, detaining the suspect a short while later and locating the firearm that was reportedly used in the incident.
Certificates of Appreciation went to Sgt. Tomas Chavarria and Detective Gerald Watts who spent a September 2012 afternoon tracking down a stolen bike for a senior citizen who relied solely on it for transportation.
Officer June Gartman was honored with a Certificate of Appreciation as well for using her patrol car's siren in March of 2012 to rouse a driver who had slumped over his steering wheel.
Detective Scottie Johns was awarded a Certificate of Appreciation for funding a sexual assault victim's bus ride back to her family in Columbus in March of 2012.
Detective Sabrina Smith was lauded with a Certificate of Appreciation for her on-going efforts to raise awareness of crimes involving youth and family violence issues, developing and producing music as one of her primary means to spread a positive message.
“I'm not biased by any means, but I’d like to thank the best unit in the department which is the persons crimes unit,” said Smith. “To all of my brothers, I appreciate you Scottie, Raymond, Cruz, Thompson, Scruggs, Choice and me. You too to the mayor and city manager. Thank you all for being here and supporting us. We appreciate the support you give us and I appreciate you for letting me be me.”
Service awards for 25 years with the Valdosta police force went to Stephan M. Findlay, June 1987 to June 2012; Earl W. Durrance Jr., March 1988 to March 2013; Thomas “Bret” Welch, August 1987 to August 2012; William E. Beauford, September 1986 to September 2011; Patricia “Pat” McGriff, March 1988 to March 2013.
Service awards for 20 years at the Valdosta Police Department went to Brent N. Johnson, August 1992 to August 2012; Tomas Chavarria, July 1992 to July 2012; Jo Ann Rofulowitz, July 1992 to July 2012; Timothy J. Pickett, July 1992 to July 2012; Stacy Brogdon, July 1992 to July 2012.
We appreciate the things that you do when carrying out your jobs each and every day and doing the things you do to keep our city safe, stated City Manager Larry Hanson as the ceremony neared its end.
The city manager and Mayor John Gayle are complimented about the city's police department on a regular basis by people from cities around the state, said Gayle.
“You don't realize how well you're known throughout the state for the job that you do,” said Gayle. “It’s people like you who go the extra mile and make the extra effort to make our police department one of the best in the state. As mayor of this city, I'm proud of all of you.”