Stories of courageous rescues and community service rang throughout the walls of the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Centre, as Biggers and other officers, firefighters and emergency workers were thanked for various acts and awarded with medals.
More than 500 Cobb business, civic and government leaders attended the breakfast, which kicked off Public Safety Appreciation Week. Guest emcee, former broadcaster Wes Sarginson, said the 46 nominees were the most the program has ever had.
Biggers has been with Marietta Police for 22 years and has been involved in several dangerous arrests, according to the department. Biggers was mainly recognized, however, for his dedication to the community and for proving himself “to be of the highest integrity; a cooperative officer with whom to work; and an excellent role model for other officers to follow.” As a community police officer, Biggers also often takes on volunteer projects to make the Cobb community safer, initiates personal contact with residents and business owners to learn of their public safety concerns and documents all of his information for the benefit of other officers, according to the Chamber. Biggers said his main goal is to make sure the concerns of residents and business owners are being addressed and that they feel safe.
“I was very, very surprised,” Biggers said of earning the award. “I do this everyday and just try to do my job the best I can. I don’t ever expect recognition, so it’s quite an honor to me. Being in law enforcement as long as I have, it’s really a good honor for those of us who are ‘old school.’ Spiritually and mentally, to me, it just meant that I’m still doing what I need to do, and that meant a lot to me.”
Several courageous officers were honored for their rescue efforts during last September’s floods, where they put their own lives at risk to save others in danger. Capt. William Flowers of Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services was one of those officers, as Flowers noticed a minivan on Sept. 21, 2009, that was swept up by floodwaters with a mother and her two children inside. After several failed rescue attempts, Flowers went into the water and carried each member of the family to safety. He made four trips into the fast-moving, deep waters and saved the family. Flowers was awarded with the Award of Merit for his efforts.
A team of Kennesaw Police officials, including Capt. Kimberlee Brophy, Sgt. George Grumbien, Jr., Officer Walker McGregor, Officer Ron Thomas and Jail Officer Tim Sharp, also put themselves in danger to rescue a resident during last year’s flood. The officials found several residents, many of them elderly, trapped in the Woodlands Mobile Home Park in Kennesaw, where floodwaters had risen to almost six feet in less than 30 minutes. Without available fire or rescue personnel, the officers created an improvised lifeline system using rope and garden hoses to wade into the water, which was flowing rapidly with large pieces of floating debris, to rescue 12 residents, two who were bound by a wheelchair.
Other Awards of Merit went to the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office Reserve Deputies Unit, which is compromised of 15 volunteers who are business men and women by trade but volunteer their time for emergency needs and missing persons searches; as well as Detective Shannon Arrowood of the Marietta Police Department for his seven years of service and helping to catch a notorious robber this past spring; Sgt. Brian Kitchens and Sgt. Christopher Michael of Cobb Police for capturing a bank robber but not complying with the unarmed robber’s apparent efforts to have them shoot him; and Acworth Police Officer Brian Collins for finding and arresting a suspect who accused of stealing several vehicle parts.
Firefighter Anthony Helms and Engineer Jeremy DeJames of Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services were awarded the Medal of Valor for their rescue efforts during last year’s floods, as the two used lightening flashes in the dark hours to navigate their way to a screaming flood victim who had been holding onto a small tree in the middle of flood waters. The two were flipped in their small rescue craft and prevented each other from drowning before saving the victim.
Officers Elizabeth Bedore, Andrew Colquitt, William Garnigan and Brian Vaughan and Sgt. Timothy Lemming were also awarded the Medal of Valor for rescuing two women and a dog from a burning van.
James Calhoun of the Cobb County School District Department of Public Safety was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award for his dedication to the students of Mabry Middle School. He started a chess club for the students, providing chess sets and teaching the students how to play after school hours He also mentored the students on math and reading, and taught them life skill sets to make a positive difference in their lives.
Cobb Public Safety Director and Fire Chief Sam Heaton said he was extremely proud of the county’s public safety workers, and that the high number of nominees reflected the several brave efforts made by Cobb’s public safety workers, specifically those involved in last year’s flood-related rescues.
“Those are truly high-risk saves that they did. There was so much potential for them to lose their lives trying to save others last year during the floods, and we really wanted to recognize them for that,” Heaton said. “All of these men and women are to be commended for their efforts everyday, and we wanted to recognize as many as we could this year.”