The Valdosta Daily Times
For the last five years, the community has given those who run to danger a shoulder to lean on in times of hardship and that support grew stronger Thursday night when hundreds of representatives from area businesses and other organizations attended the Rotary International's Sixth Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Dinner at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center.
After an address from Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, LEAD honored the community's top law-enforcement representatives. Valdosta Police Officer Derrick Keene, and Lowndes County Sheriff's Deputy Todd Moye were honored with the Rotary Club's Officer of the Year award and $500 checks after dinner was served.
Corporal Moye, currently assigned to the jail transport team, started out at the sheriff's office in 2000 and has logged 1,250 hours of law-enforcement training, according to reports. With his wife diagnosed with stage-four cancer last year, Moye offered a candid thank you to the audience of supporters and to his crew.
“My team pulled together to run my shift,” said Moye. “It's a good thing because you always run to people in trouble, but it's kind of hard when you're in trouble. I thank all of you for your prayer, phone calls, texts and food.”
Keene, currently assigned to the tactical operations unit, was a recipient of first-place awards in academics and fitness and second place in firearms while he attended the police academy, according to reports. He was named employee of the month in January 2013 and has been praised for his service in a recent assault investigation.
“I've really enjoyed working here because it's really fulfilling helping people out,” said Keene. “That's the main thing I like to do. It's not going out and arresting people but that's part of the job, too. But the real officers of the year are the ones that have to work off-duty on second jobs in order to provide for their families.”
"You take these officers out of this community and you and I wouldn't want to live here," stated LEAD President James Dominey. Proceeds from the dinner will cover the meal itself, but the rest goes directly to a life-line fund established for officers who undergo everything from fire and flooding to personal injury and death, Dominey said.
"We take the check to the officers, but it's the community who gets the credit for making this happen,” said Dominey. “If one of our law-enforcement officers should ever lose his or her life in the line of duty, this community is ready to step forward with a substantial amount of funds through this organization and through this dinner.”
Dominey urges next year's attendees to submit the ticket request early to facilitate the dinner's efficient execution of the event's planning. To find out more about LEAD, visit LEADdinner.com