Area law enforcement officers were recognized this week as the nation observed Peace Officers Memorial Day and National Police Week.
Statesboro police officers were treated to a cookout Thursday by the Statesboro Citizens Police Academy alumni, academy member Patrick Robertson.
Georgia Southern University officers were honored recently with an awards ceremony and dinner, University Police Chief Mike Russell said. And, officers from three local agencies were noted for their dedication to public safety by the Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro during a meeting Thursday morning.
According to www.policeweek.org, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation in 1962 designating May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which that date falls as National Police Week.
Each year, "tens of thousands of law enforcement officers from around the world converge on Washington, D.C., to participate in a number of planned events which honor those that have paid the ultimate sacrifice," according to the website.
Two local sheriff's deputies attended those events, Bulloch County sheriff's Chief Deputy Jared Akins said.
"The Bulloch County Sheriff's Office currently has two off-duty deputies in Washington, D.C., participating in the memorial ceremonies," he said Thursday. The deputies were there "in large part remembering our own Sgt. Wilbur Berry, killed in the line of duty in 2001."
Officers recognized at Thursday's meeting of the Rotary Club of Downtown Statesboro were Statesboro police Advanced Patrol Officer Craig Coleman, Bulloch County sheriff's Cpl. Noel Brown and Georgia Southern University police Officer Todd Olsen. Club sergeant-at-arms Chad Wiggins read through a list of each officer's achievements.
Coleman was noted for being the 2013 Statesboro Police Department Officer of the Year. He joined the police department in 1997, later served as detective and a member of the department's Emergency Response Team. The Baxley native graduated from Georgia Southern in 1995 with a bachelor's degree in criminal justice. He and wife Jennifer have two children, and Coleman enjoys outdoor activities.
Brown, born and raised in Portal, graduated from Portal High School. He is a United States Air Force veteran, previously worked with GSU police and has been with the Bulloch County Sheriff's Office since 1998.
He has served as a shift supervisor, field training deputy and officer honor guard member. He currently works in the warrants and civil section. Brown spends a great deal of his spare time supporting activities of Safe Haven and he was part of the winning team in the first Dancing with the Statesboro Stars event in 2011.
Olsen has more than 10 years of law enforcement experience, and he joined the Georgia Southern police in August 2012. He possesses an old-fashioned work ethic best described as the "first one to work, last one to leave and gets dirtier than everyone else," Wiggins said.
Olsen is part of a special detail that focuses on preventing burglaries in and around campus during holidays, resulting in no reported burglaries on campus in 2012 and 2013.
He also assisted Statesboro police in significantly reducing their holiday burglaries, Wiggins said. Olsen is a decorated military veteran, having served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
"Each year, the celebration of National Police Week brings law enforcement personnel, their families and the citizens they protect together in remembrance of those officers who have lost their lives supporting their communities," Akins said. "Law enforcement officers throughout the nation are a family, and this comes through wherever officers, deputies, troopers or agents gather. A deputy in Georgia has more in common with an officer from California than would be the case in the civilian world, and that is on vivid display this week."
Russell praised fellow law enforcement officers for their commitment to the job.
"Law enforcement is a demanding job that takes us away from our families," he said, citing the winter ice storms as an example. While others are home with families, "We're all at work," helping keep citizens safe.
"We have very supporting families," he said. "This is a very rewarding job. We see people at their worst but also see people at their best."
Holli Deal Bragg may be reached at (912) 489-9414.