January 5, 2020–8:39 p.m.
GORDON COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE
Sheriff Mitch Ralston formally recognized several deputies for bravery and outstanding service at the Sheriff’s Office. Four deputies received medals and accompanying citations as Officer(s) of the Year 2019 (in 4 categories), two received a promotion to higher ranks, and four other deputies received medals and accompanying citations for bravery in action.
Those receiving awards for “Officer of the Year 2019″ are as follows:
1. Sergeant Eric Bergen, Jailor of the Year 2019. Sergeant Bergen is assigned to the Jail Division and has been a GCSO employee since June, 2017.
2. Deputy Ryan Silvers, Court Services Deputy Sheriff of the Year 2019. Deputy Silvers is assigned to the Court Services Division and has been a GCSO employee since March, 2011.
3. Detective Lindsey R. Azar, Detective of the Year 2019. Detective Azar is assigned to the Detective Division and has been a GCSO employee since April 2009.
4. Deputy Mitchell Massingill, Enforcement Deputy Sheriff of the Year 2019. Deputy Massingill is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since May 2018.
The official Officer of the Year citations particularizes each employee’s “efficiency, diligent work ethic, and devotion to duty” during the calendar year 2019.
Those receiving awards for bravery, the “Sheriff’s Medal of Valor”, are as follows:
1. Sergeant Robert (‘Bobby’) Garcia, Medal of Valor. Sergeant Garcia is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since July, 2011.
2. Deputy Eric Blackstock, Medal of Valor. Deputy Blackstock is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since January, 2018.
3. Deputy Tyler Pierce, Medal of Valor. Deputy Pierce is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since July 2017.
4. Deputy Emily Kirby, Medal of Valor. Deputy Kirby is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since November 2017. Deputy Kirby is the first female recipient of the Medal of Valor in the history of the Sheriff’s Office.
The Medal of Valor, along with other formal awards, was established in 1995 and is the highest award presented by the Sheriff. Since that time before today, only 9 such medals have been awarded. The action for which these deputies were honored took place on October 12 (2019) near Resaca involving the response to and subsequent arrest of a heavily armed, barricaded murder suspect, and the attempted rescue of the murder victim. The official Citation for Bravery reads in part, “in disregard for their own personal safety…returned fire forcing (the offender) to stop shooting… acting again in total disregard for their own personal safety and in a valiant effort to save her life…dragged the victim out of the line of fire…(for) actions above and beyond that which are normally expected of a peace officer in the face of an armed and violently hostile adversary.”
Also during this ceremony, Deputy Sheriff Rex Anderson was promoted to the rank of Sergeant. Sergeant Anderson is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since August 2008. Sergeant Russ Jones was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant. Lieutenant Jones is assigned to the Patrol Division and has been a GCSO employee since April 2004.
In his remarks, Sheriff Ralston personally thanked, praised, and complimented all of the award recipients. The Sheriff also spoke of how fortunate our community is to be served by people of their character who choose to put their selves at risk daily, sacrifice time spent with their families, and who consistently put others first.
PHOTOGRAPH: Standing, rear ranks, left-to-right: Major Ritchie Harris, Deputy Eric Blackstock, Captain Daniel Morrison, Sergeant Rex Anderson Captain Jimmy Shaw, Sergeant Bobby Garcia, Major Pat Bedford, Sergeant Eric Bergen, Chief Deputy Robert Paris, Deputy Mitchell Massingill, Sheriff Mitch Ralston, and Lieutenant Russ Jones. Seated, front row, left-to-right: Deputy Emily Kirby, Deputy Tyler Pierce, Deputy Ryan Silvers, and Detective Lindsey Azar.