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Alpharetta Honors its Public Safety Heroes

Four Citizens of the Year were honored for rescuing a woman shopper from a suspect who had broken into her car.

The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety honored the best of the department and some local residents at the sixth annual awards ceremony.

Former Atlanta Falcon Michael Haynes shared his story of becoming an NFL wide receiver despite never playing the game until college. The decision to follow his best friend, who was a high school star, to Arizona to tryout changed his life. But he was determined to leave his impoverished neighborhood and go to college to make something of himself.

Still, despite the accolades he received from his football career, Haynes said the members of the Public Safety Department were the real heroes in the Alpharetta Presbyterian Church sanctuary, the location of the awards ceremony.

The Alpharetta Department of Public Safety Honor Guard opened the ceremony, which included speeches by Alpharetta Mayor David Belle Isle, Councilman D.C. Aiken and Public Safety Director Gary George.

A highlight of the ceremony was the honor given to four local residents as Citizens of the Year because of their heroic efforts in chasing and detaining a suspect who was breaking into a woman's car. She found the suspect in her car when she finished shopping, causing her distress that the four men were able to relieve.

Public Safety Director Gary George gave out the “Director’s Award” as the ceremony ended, which is a large golden eagle given to the overall employee of the year. Jim Darling, a firefighter/paramedic, won the award for helping to develop the training for handling an active shooter in a building, such as a school, without waiting for the suspect's removal.

This year’s award recipients are:

  • PACT (Police and Citizens Together) Officer Of The Year- Officer Chris Massey
  • Citizens Of The Year – Anthony Blandino, John Norris, William Lawrence and Ricky Cone.
  • Fire Corps Volunteer Of The Year- Tom Eiswerth
  • Public Safety Volunteer Of The Year- Debi Wingate
  • Volunteer Firefighter Of The Year- Joe Scheaffer
  • Police Reserve Officer Of The Year- Lt. Steve Pelts
  • Public Safety Employee Of The Year- Captain Kirk Harth
  • Communications Officer Of The Year- Caliece Hart
  • Firefighter Of The Year- Firefighter Shawn Blood
  • Police Officer Of The Year- Officer Amanda Clay
  • Fire Services Supervisor Of The Year- Captain Jody Poole
  • Police Services Supervisor Of The Year- Lt. Dennis Valone
  • Director’s Employee Of The Year Award- Firefighter FAE/Paramedic Jim Darling

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