Cobb's Public Safety Heroes Honored at 2019 Public Safety Awards Breakfast
Wednesday, October 9th, 2019
The Cobb Chamber honored Cobb County’s finest this morning during its annual Public Safety Appreciation Breakfast, presented by Cobb EMC and WellStar, at the Cobb Galleria Centre. The event drew a sold out crowd and kicked off Public Safety Appreciation Week, a community-wide effort to say “thank you” to the men and women who work tirelessly to keep Cobb County safe.
Gene Petriello, the director of marketing and sales for Six Flags Over Georgia and Six Flags White Water, served as the awards emcee, honoring each of the nominees and presenting the 2019 Public Safety Awards. The breakfast also included keynote speaker Cobb County District Attorney Joyette Holmes. Nominations for the Public Safety Awards were solicited from public safety agencies throughout Cobb County, including police, fire, sheriff’s office, campus police and EMS.
Congratulations to our 2019 Public Safety Award winners:
Public Safety Employee of the Year
Detective Meredith Holt, Smyrna Police Department
This award is given to an employee who has performed his or her job with exceptional skill, exhibited leadership and critical incident management and a devotion to their responsibilities. The 2019 Public Safety Employee of the Year received a glass sculpture created by Lillie Glassblowers in Smyrna, and a handgun courtesy of GLOCK.
Detective Meredith Holt, an 18-year public safety veteran, is well known for her servant leadership and supportive mentorship. She mentors fellow Detectives in their duties, conducts routine training for her department and frequently serves as a lighthouse in the storm for others.
Detective Holt is recognized as a statewide expert in human trafficking, and she can always be counted on to train both law enforcement and the community about their role in stopping human trafficking. She also testified before the State House and became a catalyst for passing a bill that made pimping a felony. The passage of the law was a huge victory for victims and prosecutors statewide, and it ensured that offenders will spend more time in jail for their crimes.
Awards of Merit
• Deputy Stephen Arsenault, Cobb County Sheriff’s Department
• Cobb Police SWAT Team: Officers David Cavender, Zach Day, Brett Gossett, Caleb Reid, and JC Tranquille, Cobb County Police Department
The Award of Merit recognizes a deserving recipient for acts of courage, demonstrating genuine care and concern for the citizens of the community and going above and beyond the call of duty, often resulting in a life being saved.
Deputy Stephen Arsenault, Cobb County Sheriff’s Department
Deputy Arsenault showed his compassion in response to an incident on March 6, 2019, when he was flagged down by a male citizen outside his vehicle on Barrett Parkway. The man’s wife was inside the vehicle in cardiac arrest. He immediately removed her from the vehicle and began CPR. While conducting CPR, he called for assistance from the fire department and EMS. Arsenault continued utilizing CPR and his mobile AED system until EMS arrived to transport the woman to the hospital.
In a true display of empathy for the community he serves, Arsenault visited the hospital to ensure the couple was doing well. Three weeks later, when the couple were ready to be released from the hospital, he escorted the couple to their home.
Deputy Arsenault’s calm demeanor, quick actions and expert training recall during the situation resulted in saving a life.
Cobb Police SWAT Team: Officers David Cavender, Zach Day, Brett Gossett, Caleb Reid, and JC Tranquille
On October 2, 2018, the Cobb County Police Department dispatched its SWAT team to a scene involving a homicide and an active hostage situation at a residence in Mableton. Inside the home, officers had learned that an elderly woman had been shot by her granddaughter’s ex-boyfriend. The suspect was holding his ex-girlfriend and her 7-year-old daughter in an upstairs bedroom as hostages.
As the situation escalated, the SWAT officers used their bodies to force the door open, and entered the bedroom. Officers were able to evacuate the child to safety. The team opened a closet door to find the suspect sitting on the floor, holding his ex-girlfriend in between his legs with a handgun held to her head.
The officers acted quickly, incapacitating the suspect and quickly evacuating the victim from the room. The mother and her daughter were immediately taken to awaiting EMTs and were found to be unharmed.
The courage and sense of duty of the five SWAT officers led them to do whatever was necessary to protect and save the lives of the hostages and their surrounding neighbors.
Distinguished Achievement Award
Director Marty Billings, MetroAtlanta Ambulance
The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose service and performance has exceeded the demands of the job.
Director Marty Billings has had a long and fruitful career in public safety. After beginning his service with Walton and Gwinnett County Fire and earning his EMT and Paramedic licenses, Billings worked for the Georgia State Office of EMS & Trauma as a Region EMS Coordinator before being hired as the EMS Director of the State of Georgia.
As EMS Director, Billings managed a statewide personnel department, represented Georgia at the National EMS Directors Association, and managed 10 Regional EMS Offices throughout the state and 10 EMS Regional Councils—in addition to overseeing a number of programs and councils.
In 2015, Billings’ team spearheaded a project to address a national and statewide shortage of EMS workers by forming a consortium with the KSU WellStar School of Nursing and creating the MetroAtlanta EMS Academy. The academy has brought more than 300 individuals into the industry and helped more than 500 EMS workers within the profession enhance their licensing levels through the ranks of EMT, Advanced EMT and Paramedic.
Director Billings is always on call, and his heart is always in the right place. His public service as a Fire Fighter, Paramedic, State Employee and now MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service Director has had a measurable and positive impact on the health, safety and wellness of individuals and communities throughout Georgia and Cobb County. Those that work, live and visit Georgia are certainly better off because of Billings’ vision and leadership.
Outstanding Community Contribution
The Outstanding Community Contribution Award recognizes an individual who epitomizes what it means to be a community-oriented public servant.
Officer Paul Hill coordinates the Marietta Police Department’s Citizens Academy, a program offering citizens the chance to experience what it's like to be a police officer. He also manages the MPD College Internship Program. He has built professional relationships with Criminal Justice/Criminology professors from colleges and universities around Georgia, which have contributed to Marietta PD’s reputation as a top-tier professional law enforcement agency where colleges and universities want to send their students for an advanced out-of-classroom educational experience.
He has also been instrumental in the promotion of the radKids youth program, which empowers community youth to stay safe in both their homes and in public.
In the elementary schools within Marietta, there are no officers permanently assigned as School Resource Officers (SRO), and Hill, recognizing the need for an officer and point of contact, has taken the elementary schools under his wing and made school safety a part of his daily patrol. Since his proactive work with the elementary schools, Marietta police and schools have worked together to add two SROs to Marietta elementary schools for the start of the upcoming 2019-2020 school year. Officer Hill is a true asset to the continuing education and promotion of safety within Cobb County.
Medals of Valor
• Officers Timothy Burns and Armando Sanchez of Kennesaw Police Department
• Lars Marvin, Paul Molinaro and James Walker, the crew of Engine 55-C, a unit of Marietta Fire Department
The Medal of Valor is the highest award recognizing an individual for an act of bravery in a life-threatening situation. The award is only presented when a deserving candidate is found. This year, two groups were recognized.
Officers Timothy Burns and Armando Sanchez of Kennesaw Police Department
During the summer of 2018, the Atlanta area was hit hard by multiple commercial burglaries being committed by a group identified as the “Yellow Crow Bar Gang.” The Kennesaw Police Department received a “be on the lookout” (BOLO) for a group of three-to-four individuals burglarizing convenience stores near Interstate 75. The suspects were known to be armed and dangerous, and reportedly had engaged Atlanta Police Officers with gunfire during an earlier incident.
On the morning of October 1, 2018, Officers Sanchez and Burns were patrolling the Jiles Road area and heard an alarm sounding at a Texaco station that was closed for business. They investigated and found several suspects inside the store matching the BOLO information. After setting up a tactical approach, the officers attempted to confront the suspects. Disobeying all commands, the suspects got into their vehicle and drove toward Officer Burns. The officers gave loud verbal commands, as well as displaying their weapons. Upon hearing gunfire coming from the vehicle, Officers Burns and Sanchez returned fire into the driver’s compartment of the vehicle. The suspects continued to fire on the officers as they left the parking lot. Backup officers attempted to pursue the suspects, but discontinued after losing sight of the vehicle, which was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed.
Without hesitation, both Officer Sanchez and Officer Burns confronted these violent offenders who had been committing multiple crimes in the Atlanta area. Their courage and bravery is commended, as they did not hesitate in confronting these suspects, placing their lives in jeopardy for the greater good of the community.
Lars Marvin, Paul Molinaro and James Walker, the crew of Engine 55-C, a unit of Marietta Fire Department
On the night of September 5, 2018, the Engine 55 C-Shift was dispatched to a roll-over vehicle accident on South Cobb Drive near Cobb Parkway. Engine 55 arrived to find one vehicle upside down off the roadway and in the woods, smoke and flames visible from the engine compartment and rear, and with a female occupant trapped inside. The crew immediately deployed a hose line to suppress the fire and gain access to the trapped victim.
While Engineer Molinaro provided an adequate supply of water, Lieutenant Marvin and Firefighter Walker gained access through the flames to the victim at great risk to their personal safety. The crew worked rapidly and ensured the victim was safely removed from the vehicle without further injury.
Once the victim was moved away from the vehicle, a Cobb Police Department Officer assisted in moving the victim over traffic barriers for further treatment. The victim was treated by paramedics and transported to the hospital, where she was treated for burns and other injures before making a full recovery.
The crew of Engine 55 showed significant courage and decisive action in this rescue effort. They are a fine example of the selfless dedication of members of the Marietta Fire Department, as well as the overall public safety community.
The 2019 Public Safety Appreciation Breakfast was made possible by the following sponsors: Platinum Sponsors, Cobb EMC and WellStar; Awards Sponsor, LoRusso Law Firm; VIP Reception Sponsor, Verizon; Gold Sponsors, The Cooper Firm and Genuine Parts Company; Silver Sponsors, C.W. Matthews, Fisher & Phillips Attorneys at Law, GLOCK, MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service, Puckett EMS, and Six Flags Over Georgia; Patriot Sponsors, Georgia Power, LGE Community Credit Union, and Northside Hospital; and Media Sponsor, Cobb County Government.