Thomasville Times Enterprise

Local News

January 27, 2014

MADD holds recognition banquet

MOULTRIE — The South Georgia Chapter of Mothers Against Drunk Driving and state safety officials offered thanks Saturday to law enforcement personnel in the fight against intoxicated driving.

The sixth annual MADD Recognition Banquet was held at the Colquitt County Agricultural Building in Moultrie, but awards were presented to officers and organizations from throughout the southern part of the state.

Sgt. Russ Covington of the Georgia State Patrol was recognized as officer of the year. MADD South Georgia Director Gary Robinson said Covington has assisted the chapter since its inception.

The Speaker of the Year award went to Dakota Baker of Norman Park. Baker, 14, lost her brother to a drunk driver in September 2010 and more recently became active in MADD in response to that tragedy. Last year, she became one of nine members of a MADD national youth panel focused on reducing teens’ use of alcohol. See this story at www.moultrieobserver.com for a link to more information about her.

Officers were recognized for multiple DUI arrests made in 2013. The largest number of such arrests was by Trooper 1st Class John Brinson of the Georgia State Patrol with 72. Brinson is based at Thomasville’s Post 12, which patrols Colquitt, Grady, Mitchell and Thomas counties.

The top eight DUI arresters were GSP troopers. Brinson and three of his Post 12 colleagues held four of the top five spots. The top ten were: Brinson (72); Trooper 1st Class Meed Kelly, GSP Thomasville (69); Trooper 1st Class C.P. Miller, GSP Tifton (68); Trooper 1st Class Stewart Parker, GSP Thomasville (67); Trooper 1st Class Chris Hosey, GSP Thomasville (65); Trooper 1st Class R. Harding, GSP Tifton (62); Chris Kelch, GSP Lowndes County (51); Jeremy Swain, GSP Lowndes County (49); Woodrow Burkhalter, Douglas Police Department (45); and Trooper First Class 2 John Sellers, GSP Houston County (35).

Among Colquitt County-based law enforcement, awards went to Cpl. Rocky Hancock, Moultrie Police Department (20); Cpl. Jerome Burgess, Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office (18); Ofc. Jared Boyd, Moultrie Police (12); Ofc. Kevin Tucker, Moultrie Police (11); Deputy Justin Searcy, Colquitt County SO (11); Cpl. Terry Gibson, Colquitt County SO (8); Deputy John Vickers, Colquitt County SO (8); Sgt. Ronald Jordan, Colquitt County SO (7); and Sgt. Jeremy Henry, Norman Park Police (4).

The chapter also recognized its volunteers, judges, members of the media, and other emergency responders, such as the Moultrie Fire Department, Southside Volunteer Fire Department and Air Evac Cordele, but the focus was on the law enforcers who attended.

“Every drunk you get off the street, you save a life,” MADD South Georgia Director Robinson said.

Barry Martin, executive director of the state MADD chapter, said MADD was started 32 years ago and has made a dramatic shift in mindset and fatality statistics in those three decades.

“We know 30 years ago this was a crime that wasn’t taken very seriously,” he said. “It was pay your ticket and go home.”

Thirty yeas ago, he said, more than 22,000 people lost their lives in alcohol-related vehicle crashes. Today that number is less than 10,000.

The event concluded with a memorial award for Capt. John Bass of the Colquitt County Sheriff’s Office, who died in November. Sgt. Chris Robinson — last year’s MADD Speaker of the Year — told the assembly that Bass had been like a father to him after he went to work at the CCSO.

But as heartfelt as Robinson’s presentation was, it was Bass’s son, Brian, who moved the crowd when he took the microphone. Brian Bass expressed the sense of security and pride that he and his family felt because of his father’s role in law enforcement.

“There’s not a lot of career choices anybody could make that would make your famly any prouder of you,” he told the officers in the audience.

 

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