In a room filled with firefighters, law enforcement officers, EMTs and 911 radio operators, Georgia State Patrol Post 45 Trooper First Class 2 Robbie Scott was honored for going above and beyond the call of duty. Scott was chosen as Bulloch County’s 2019 Public Safety Person of the Year.
The tradition of honoring area public safety personnel “began 43 years ago in my pond house,” said Bird Hodges, one of the founders of the unofficial organization of county residents who support law enforcement and other public safety workers.
Hodges and a group of these residents started holding an appreciation dinner every year, with the first affair having just 14 guests, he said. Thursday night, the effort fed 350 firefighters, EMTS, deputies, officers, dispatchers and troopers at the Statesboro Kiwanis Club Ogeechee Fairgrounds community building. Over 100 were “take-out” meals delivered to those on duty and unable to attend.
Former Georgia Bureau of Investigations special agent Charles Sikes praised the public safety workers, but also gave kudos to the “heroes in the shadows” who support them behind the scenes, such as the group who hosts the annual recognition dinner and the businesses who sponsor it.
Bulloch County Commissioner Jappy Stringer and former Statesboro and Ogeechee Technical College police chief Stan York welcomed the crowd and praised them for their service to the county.
Leaders of each law enforcement or public safety agency introduced departmental nominees for their 2019 “person of the year.” They are as follows: Bulloch County Sheriff’s Office — Lt. Walter Deal; Bulloch County Fire Department — Firefighter Tyler Miller; Bulloch County EMS — EMT Michelle Willis; Georgia Bureau of Investigation — Agent Lindsay P. Smith; Georgia Southern University Police — Investigator Hayley Shutley; Statesboro Fire Department — Assistant Chief Jason Baker; Statesboro Police Department — Officer Thad Wehner; Bulloch County 911 — Operator Judy Smith; and Georgia State Patrol — Trooper First Class 2 Robbie Scott.
GSP Post 45 Commander Sgt. Chris Rodewolt spoke highly of Scott, telling how he went beyond what he had to do in responding to a call about two children playing near a road.
“He didn’t tag it off to a deputy,” Rodewolt said.
Instead, Scott took the children, who were apparently unattended and whose parents could not immediately be located, and “cleaned them up, fed them, bought them clothes and took them to the hospital.”
He praised Scott’s “willingness to come out every single day and put forth his best effort.” He said Scott is eager to serve at special events and even “puts on a blue Santa suit” for holiday occasions such as the Santa’s Toy Run.
“He rocks it,” Rodewolt said.
He added that Scott is the top DUI trooper in Troop F for this year.
Scott was humble as he accepted the award.
“I want to say ‘thank you’ to the community,” he said. “It is what it is all about, the public, and we can’t do it without your support.”
Herald reporter Holli Deal Saxon may be reached at (912) 489-9414.