The Newton County Sheriff’s Office honored its deputies and employees for their service to the community Friday.
The department held its fifth annual awards ceremony at the Newton County Judicial Center, where stories of service were heard and special recognitions were bestowed upon much of Newton’s law enforcement.
During the ceremony guest speaker Superior Court Judge Samuel D. Ozburn shared words of thanks to the department for its service to the community.
In addition, former NCSO Deputy Joseph Griffin — a 49-year-old who was killed on Christmas Eve in 2012 while performing his police adviser and mentor duties in Kabul, Afghanistan — was honored for his service with DynCorp International, a private military contractor global training and mentoring program.
DynCorp vice president Mel Booker presented Griffin’s widow, Rennae Griffin, and his parents, Shay and Elton Griffin, with the Chairman’s Purple Star Award, the highest award given by the company; and Rep. Hank Johnson, U.S. Representative for Georgia’s Fourth Congressional District, presented the family with a proclamation honoring Griffin as a U.S. Citizen of Distinction.
Additional reflections about Griffin’s work and his life were given by Lt. Thomas Kunz, a friend and colleague; and Walter Redman Sr., the senior police adviser for the U.S. Department of State.
Awards for the Sheriff’s Office were given by Sheriff Ezell Brown, Chief Deputy Jerry Carter, Lt. Paul Gunter, and Sgt. Cortney Morrison. Awards were as follows:
Cpl. Charles Cook received the NCSO Lifesaving Award with Service Bar. In June 2013, Cook, along with Covington Police officer Brian Capps and Catherine Stephens, a nurse at Grady Memorial Hospital, were first responders when Ernest Smith, 72, of Covington, went into cardiac arrest while driving near Walmart on Industrial Boulevard and lost consciousness. As first responders, they began administering CPR and used an AED defibrillator to shock Smith, who then regained a pulse. At the awards presentation, Smith greeted Cook with a hug and thanks for his life-saving efforts on that eventful day.
Division Deputies/Employees of the Year
Deputy of the Year, Employee of the Year and Rookie of the Year winners were honored with plaques.
Lt. Paul Gunter, a training coordinator and with the court services training division, was named Deputy of the Year; Vivian Ramsey, with the warrant unity and detention division, was named Employee of the Year; and Deputy Milton Hightower, with the crime suppression unit and criminal investigation division, was named Rookie of the Year.
Each of the three award winners was nominated on by all the supervisors and commanders of the agency and placed in a ballot with with every employee could vote. The ballots were counted and the names of the employees receiving the most votes were submitted to the sheriff for approval.
Division Deputies/Employees of the year were also recognized at the ceremony with a plaque. Division Deputies/Employees of the year are chosen by their supervisors and division commanders and approved by the sheriff.
Deputy Christopher Bowles received the award for the Patrol Division; for the Court Services Division, Deputy Randy Singleton received the award. Deputy Kathy Esque received the award for the Criminal Investigation Division; and Sgt. Tameika Ross received the award for the Detention Division.
After completing the necessary coursework and hours of training, several NCSO employees were presented with certificates by the department. Barbara K. Ewing earned the title of Certified Crime and Intelligence Analyst from The California State University at Sacramento.
POST Supervisory Certificates were awarded to Special Agent William Bowen; Capt. Keith Crum; Sgt. Robert F. Gaddy; Cpl. Richard A. Howard; and Cpl. Mark Joyner. Additionally, POST Management Certificates were awarded to Special Agent William Bowen; Capt. Keith Crum; and Cpl. Mark Joyner.
POST Senior Deputy Certifications were awarded to Deputy David Gilbert; Lt. Paul Gunter; Cpl. Mark Joyner; Deputy Darrell Odom; and Deputy Veronica Ramirez.
Years of Service
1 year: Haley Giles; Emerald Price; Susan Nolley; Tia Dorsey; Raymond Pearce; Milton Hightower; James McGilvray; Christopher Richardson; Tracey Bates; Brandy Burch; Michael Gibbons; Bill Cooper; James Wilson; Justin White; Kurt Collins; Alissia Thomas; Matthew Gunnells; and Amanda Kindsfather.
5 Years: Stacey Malcolm; Daniel Underwood; Thomas Gladden; Ernesto Borrero; Patrick Gilbert; Christopher Allen; Dustin Riccardi; Clinton French; Wesley Dickerson; Susan Young; Samuel Johnson; Tyrone Major; Colin Cunningham; Jocelyn Detweiler; Amanda Peters; Novel Ellis; Brian Taylor; Justin Howell; Randall Westbrook; and Wesley Ramsey.
10 Years: Amesia Johnson; James Stevens; Danny Peppers; Natasha Henderson; Brent Morrison; Kevin Wade Freeman; Richard Howard; Felicia Jefferson; Gail Brooks; Donella Freeman; Rena Swann; Jai Curry; Gilbert Jefferson Jr.; Michelle Wise; Brandon Esque; Susan Gray; and Vincent Loveless.
15 Years: David Altwies Jr.; George Gardner; Charles McMichael; and Steven Ledford.
20 Years: Tim Allen and Keith Crum
35 Years: Sheriff Ezell Brown
Retirees recognized at the event included Lt. Gwen Hightower, who served 29 years with the department; Lt. Gary Bradford, who served 27 years; and Deputy Marlin Pollard, who served 10 years.