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Newton County Sheriff's Office staff honored

Award recipients are shown here being congratulated by Retired Sheriff Gerald Malcolm (left) and Chief Deputy Jerry Carter and Sheriff Ezell Brown (right). Honoree are (front, l-r) Court Services Deputy of the Year Thomas Gladden, Deputy of the Year Sgt. Mark Polite, and Rookie of the Year Aimee Oliver. In back are Detention Deputy of the Year Fate Reed and SIU Deputy of the Year Cpl. Richard "Tony" Howard. Not pictured are Patrol Deputy of the Year Retired Lt. Steve Gunnells and CID Deputy of the Year Sharron L. Stewart and Employee of the Year Barbara Esque. - Special photo

Award recipients are shown here being congratulated by Retired Sheriff Gerald Malcolm (left) and Chief Deputy Jerry Carter and Sheriff Ezell Brown (right). Honoree are (front, l-r) Court Services Deputy of the Year Thomas Gladden, Deputy of the Year Sgt. Mark Polite, and Rookie of the Year Aimee Oliver. In back are Detention Deputy of the Year Fate Reed and SIU Deputy of the Year Cpl. Richard "Tony" Howard. Not pictured are Patrol Deputy of the Year Retired Lt. Steve Gunnells and CID Deputy of the Year Sharron L. Stewart and Employee of the Year Barbara Esque. - Special photo

COVINGTON -- The Newton County Sheriff's Office held its fourth Annual Awards Ceremony Friday, honoring deputies and administrative personnel for their years of service, as well as those who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to distinguish themselves during 2012. Elected officials and well-wishers, including family and friends of the NCSO staff, filled the Jury Impaneling Room at the Newton County Judicial Center for the event.

Alcovy Circuit District Attorney Layla Zon was the guest speaker and referred to NCSO staff as "truly hometown heroes."

Zon said of all the monikers used in referring to law enforcement officers, she said she likes the term "peace officers" best because that is what they are -- when responding to distress, chaos and violence, they create peace.

She said she's heard it many times on 911 calls when the stress level and fear in a caller's voice is so apparent at the beginning of the call; then as the caller speaks with the 911 operator, the stress begins to go down; and then finally a sense or relief when they say the officer has arrived and they know they are safe.

"Your presence calms our community," she told them.

She closed by reminding them of the Bible verse found in Matthew 5:9, which promises, "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God."

Sheriff Ezell Brown wrapped up the ceremonies by telling the officers, "This is your day because you're about giving and not receiving," and telling his staff that he thanks God for the work they do daily, not only for him, but for the community and the state of Georgia.

Each division in the department selected a Deputy of the Year. They are: Patrol Division - Lt. Steve P. Gunnells; Criminal Investigation Division - Investigator Sharron L. Stewart; Court Services - Deputy Thomas K. Gladden; Special Investigations Unit - Cpl. Richard A. "Tony" Howard; and Detention Center - Fate E. Reed.

Overall Deputy of the Year for the department, chosen by his peers, is Deputy Mark A. Polite; the Rookie of the Year is Deputy Aimee L. Oliver; and Employee of the Year is Barbara K. Esque.

A special award called the Purple Heart Award was given to retired Deputy Tommy Jones for his valor in 1992 in responding to two vehicles racing and exceeding speeds of more than 100 mph. One of the cars hit him, causing serious injury.

Other awards were given for years of service. Those honorees are:

35 years - Tommy L. Thomason;

25 years - C. Juanita Threadgill and Gary L. Bradford;

20 years - Brent C. Langley and Mark J. Mitchell;

15 years - Daronna N. Cobb, Sonya N. Benton, Christopher M. Hegwood, Christopher B. Hale and Kenneth D. Kent;

10 years - Chad M. Hunt, PaulH. Gunter, Walter G. Taylor and Demeca S. Smith;

5 years - Lawrence E. Digby, John S. Hood, Ronald E. Woodson, Charles E. Ledford, Aimee L. Oliver, Robert W. Scott Jr., John L. Redlinger, Kaddeem M. Myrie, Wesley W. Atha, Barbara K. Esque, Jerry J. Rousselle, Fred D. Landress, Randy P. Singleton, Priscilla T. Gilbert, Roderick J. White, Jeremy T. Vieira, Paula G. Worthey, Andre L. Lawrence, Selma L. Williams, Fate E Reed, Dawn T. Hunter, Darrell W. Odom, Jeremy C. Salers, Jamie M. Green, Tamieka s. Ross and Billy R. Leazer;

1 year - Romario A. Johnson, Bryant Jones, Freda Holloway, Cindy D. Hooper, Jeffrey Maben, Bradrick J. Hill, Beau M. Alexander and Timel B. Parrish.