ALBANY, Ga. -- After a minute of silence, a single white candle burned in memory of Dougherty County Police Lt. Cliff Rouse who died in the line of duty while pursuing a theft suspect in December.
As the Exchange Club of Albany honored the 2010 Law Enforcement Officers of the year at its Friday Luncheon meeting everyone, remembered that to protect and serve could mean the ultimate sacrifice.
"This is our way of recognizing the people who put their life on the line in service to their community," said Barney Knighton, club president. "It is the least we could do to show them we appreciate what they do."
These are the recipients of the award and how they serve and protect our community:
Albany Police Department Officers McKinley Windom and Christopher Hutcherson responded to an armed robbery at the Family Dollar on the 1000 block of West Gordon Avenue in July.
Inside the store two armed suspects held an employee at gunpoint. The officers bided their time. The suspects left the store with a hostage in tow.
Windom Tried to talk the suspects into releasing the hostage. Hutcherson saw the second suspect turn and point his gun at Windom. Hutcherson shot the suspect, wounding him.
The officers arrested the suspects, took the weapons and no bystanders were injured.
Last December, Dougherty County Sheriff's Office Cpl. Tommy Bruce joined in a call to a robbery at the Pitt Stop convenience store on Sylvester Road. Rouse was fatally wounded answering the call, but Bruce's quick response enabled him to locate and arrest the accused gunman before more bullets could be fired.
Other officers were honored for their contributions keeping guns, drugs, drunk drivers, identity thieves and other criminals off the streets during their daily duties.
Lee County Sheriff's Office Sgt. Don Moody's honor citation gave high praise for his actions in drug cases and drunken driving cases, and for keeping the highways safe for the motorists.
Dougherty County Police Department Lt. Danny J. Ball's expertise in financial fraud cases including identity theft and forgery has given him a 75 percent clearance rate in the field. He has also started and overseen many of the department's charitable events, which benefit the community.
Georgia Department of Natural Resources Ranger First Class Randy Davis, protects the waterways from drunken boaters, arrests trespassers and participates in searches and rescues through Mitchell and Baker counties. He patrols for environmental crimes over about 856 square miles of forest and 45 water miles of the Flint River.
Georgia State Patrol Trooper First Class Andrew McKenzie led Post 40, Albany, in the most traffic stops, total arrests and every aspect of what a trooper should be doing out on the road.
All of the recipients paid tribute to the other officers with whom they serve because they are considered family.