F’ville Police Department, Fayette Deputy Mindar honored
The Event Center in Griffin was packed with approximately 500 officers, their families and those close to law enforcement April 29 for the District Attorney’s 4th Annual Law Enforcement Appreciation Banquet.
Among the many award recipients were Fayette County Sheriff’s Deputy Thomas Mindar, who received Officer of the Year honors, and the Fayetteville Police Department, which received the award for Agency of the Year.
District Attorney Scott Ballard again this year served as master of ceremonies for the event. Aside from the wealth of officers and their spouses serving the agencies of the Griffin Judicial Circuit, the large meeting room was populated with police chiefs, current and former sheriffs, judges and members of various city councils and county commissions.
Mindar was selected Officer of the Year from a group of 21 nominees from around the circuit. In describing Mindar’s efforts, Ballard said the deputy on at least two occasions in the past year had demonstrated extraordinary dedication and bravery by placing himself in direct danger in order to capture dangerous felons.
Mindar on Aug. 29 was part of a contingent of officers pursuing a vehicle containing a large shipment of cocaine that had been flown into Falcon Field in Peachtree City. Mindar leapt out of the way to avoid being hit by the vehicle, Ballard said, then pursued the vehicle and was the first officer to approach the vehicle after it was stopped minutes later on Ga. Highway 54.
“His quick reactions prevented the suspect from reaching for a gun he had in his waistband while other officers moved in to help secure the suspect and the cocaine,” said Ballard.
Ballard said the other incident occurred on Dec. 26 when Mindar and other officers responded to an armed robbery at a drug store in Fayetteville. When the suspect emerged from behind the pharmacy counter brandishing a handgun Mindar was forced to fire to prevent injury to himself and others. The suspect received non-life threatening injuries and was taken into custody, Ballard said.
Nominees for the Officer of the Year Award were: Sgt. Robert Barfield with the Upson County Sheriff’s Office, Det. Bob Baustista, Capt. Lynn Crawshaw, Capt. Steve Crawshaw, Det. Bob Stavenger and Det. Mike Whitlow from the Fayetteville Police Dept., Chief Ken Troisi with the Griffin Tech Police, Investigator Chris Stapleton, Lt. Tommy Pope, Dep. Thomas Mindar, Dep. David Lamb and Investigator Earl Hanners from the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office, Sgt. Gary Meier with the Peachtree City Police Dept., officers Philip Nelson, Anthony Munoz and Drew Moorman from the Tyrone Police Dept., Special Agent Lanny Cox with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, Dep. Josh Pitts with the Spalding County Sheriff’s Office, Officer Bobby Ellington from the Thomaston Police Dept. and deputies Jeffrey Boatwright and Jeff Boyt with the Pike County Sheriff’s Office.
Finalists for the award went to Barfield, Boyt, Cox, Lynn Crawshaw, Troisi and Mindar.
The award for law enforcement Agency of the Year went to the Fayetteville Police Department. Ballard in making the presentation noted the department’s service to the community through a variety of efforts.
Commenting on the honor, Chief Steve Heaton after the meeting said, “I was very surprised and humbled by the the award. Our folks do great work and they try to provide the best service to our citizens and visitors. It’s very humbling when others recognize our achievements.”
Another set of honors presented by Ballard April 29 were special awards. Those included the Overcoming Adversity Award presented to Spalding County deputy and former Lamar County Sheriff Joe Bice, the Service to Youth Award presented to Fayetteville Det. Bob Stavenger, the White Collar Investigations Award presented to Fayetteville Det. Mike Whitlow and the Compassion to Victims Award presented to Peachtree City Det. Gary Meier.
Yet another award went to Peeples Elementary School student Ashley Broderick for her entry in the Law Enforcement Essay Contest. Ashley’s essay, “From Dare to Danger,” was selected from a field of more than a dozen entries from 5th graders from across the circuit.
“... officers go into hazardous situations. They might go into a house and not know what is behind the next door,” an excerpt from the essay read. “I know this because I had a neighbor who was a law enforcement officer. He went off to work one day like any other day; but unfortunately he got shot and did not get to even say goodbye to his family. Officer Cross died because he wanted us to be safe.”