The Statesboro Police Officers Foundation awarded the inaugural Statesboro Police Department Ty Cobler Memorial Scholarships on Friday to four young adults with parents employed by the department.
With a total of $1,500 awarded as three $300 scholarships and one $600 scholarship, this marks the beginning of a program foundation supporters hope will grow to provide assistance to SPD officers and staff members who further their educations, as well as for their family members who apply.
The Police Officers Foundation intends to raise at least $5,000 over the course of the year for the next round of scholarships, said Jeff Klare, a member of the foundation board. He is leading the scholarship committee’s marketing and fund-raising efforts.
“Well, that’s our minimum,” Klare said. “We’re hoping to do a lot more than that, and calling on businesses throughout Statesboro and Bulloch County. These are our neighbors putting their lives on the line, so we need to thank them in some way.”
Tyrus Raymond “Ty” Cobler, for whom the scholarships are named, owned and operated the independent sporting goods store TC Outdoors for a decade, beginning in 2010. Originally from Dallas, Texas, he had arrived in Statesboro years earlier as a Walmart store general manager.
When the Statesboro Police Officers Foundation was created six years ago, Cobler became a founding member. He attended the meetings every month, making many useful suggestions, and when members began talking about creating a scholarship program, Cobler gave the idea his enthusiastic support, said SPD Deputy Chief Rob Bryan, the department’s liaison to the foundation.
After a long battle with cancer, Cobler died Feb. 5, 2020 at age 62. Bryan credited Klare with then pushing the scholarship initiative forward but added that all of the foundation board members supported naming it for Cobler.
“It’s very fitting that the scholarship is named in memory of Ty and everything that he did, not only for the police foundation but for the community,” Bryan said. “We hope to see this continue to grow and become more impactful across many areas of the community. … Ty’s friendship, knowledge and input are greatly missed.”
Ty Cobler’s wife, Becky Cobler, daughters Jennifer Waters and Shelly Lawson and 1-year-old granddaughter Kaylee Lawson attended the informal ceremony Friday morning at the police station. The Coblers also have a grandson, Jayce Waters, and sons-in-law Kelly Waters and Kyle Lawson round out the local family.
Shelly Lawson noted that her father had lived in many places across America but chose Statesboro.
“We’ve lived in Texas, Arkansas, California, Wisconsin, Arizona, many different places, and dad chose to be here in Statesboro of all places, and he loved this community so much and he loved those law enforcement officers that are here and helping everybody every day, and we’re just so excited to be able to give back to the community in my father’s name with this scholarship,” she said.
First 4 recipients
The first four Ty Cobler Memorial Scholarships recipients range from a brand-new high school graduate to a university senior aiming for law school.
The foundation awarded the largest scholarship, $600, to the youngest scholar, Devin Fletcher, 18, who graduated Wednesday night from Statesboro High School. His mother, SPD dispatcher Kisha Tremble, has served with the department more than eight years. Fletcher is now going to East Georgia State College and plans to pursue a degree in business management.
Each of the older students received a $300 award. Bryan said the money is being sent directly to schools the scholarship winners attend.
Scholarship recipient Hope Hutchens, 20, is a sophomore at Georgia Southern University, where she is majoring in early childhood education, said her father, Lt. Scott Hutchens.
A 30-year veteran of Statesboro’s police force, he is now part of its Administrative Bureau, where he has led the effort to achieve and now maintain the SPD’s status as a Certified Police Department with the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. A minority of Georgia police departments hold this voluntary certification.
Scholarship recipient Dylan Coxwell, 21, is a rising senior at Georgia Southern, where he is majoring in criminal justice and criminology. His mother, Sherry Coxwell, has served six years with the SPD, where she is the chief’s administrative assistant in the Administrative Bureau.
Scholarship recipient Sara Ramey, 23, is a senior at Georgia Southern’s Armstrong Campus in Savannah. She changed her major from legal studies to criminal justice but still plans to go to law school, said her father, Capt. Carl Ramey. He has led the Patrol Bureau of the Statesboro Police Department since last July 1, after 34 years with the Savannah Police Department, where he rose to precinct commander.
Individuals and businesses donated for this inaugural round of the scholarship program. It is the latest of several projects realized by the Statesboro Police Officers Foundation, whose core mission is providing support to the SPD and its officers not covered by the city’s regular funding.
The Statesboro Police Officers Foundation teamed up with the Bulloch County Sheriff's Foundation for their largest single project to date, the shared Public Safety Training Building at the firearms practice range near the Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office.
Dedicated in February 2020, the training building was constructed using $56,000 in cash donations and more than $207,000 of donor in-kind goods and services at no cost to the departments. It has now been used by personnel from more than two dozen public safety agencies, Bryan said.
The Police Officers Foundation previously provided SPD with hardened body armor for active-shooter situations and funded the addition of Mono (pronounced "Mow-Know"), a Labrador retriever trained in narcotics detection, to the department’s K9 force.
Foundation board members Klare, Morrell McCaskill , Trish Tootle, Hoke Brunson and Nick Propps attended Friday’s presentation. Brannen Smith is the foundation’s current president.
“It’s a great group of people we’re happy to work with,” said Police Chief Mike Broadhead. “They get nothing out of it, yet they literally meet once a month and make decisions and go out and harass people for money just so that they can help us, and so we’re really appreciative of that.”
A complete list of board members can be found on the foundation’s website, www.statesboropolice.org, which also has links to join the foundation at various sponsorship levels.