published Wednesday, May 9th, 2012

Optimists honor Georgia law enforcement officers

Dade County High students Jordan Buckels, left, Isaac Wooten and Garrett Moore stand as Trooper 1st Class Dusty Starling, near right, with the Georgia State Honor Guard, stands at attention with colors to begin the Law Enforcement Appreciation Ceremony on Tuesday at the Dade County Justice Center.
Dade County High students Jordan Buckels, left, Isaac Wooten and Garrett Moore stand as Trooper 1st Class Dusty Starling, near right, with the Georgia State Honor Guard, stands at attention with colors to begin the Law Enforcement Appreciation Ceremony on Tuesday at the Dade County Justice Center.
Photo by Tim Barber.

THE HONOREES

Georgia State Patrol Master Trooper Bill Bowman

Dade County Sheriff Sgt. Scott Parker

Trenton Police Officer Mike Coleman

Community members, many of them children, laid 10 white roses at the table -- one for every Georgia law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty since they gathered last year.

Dade County residents gathered at the courthouse on Tuesday to honor both fallen officers and three exceptional ones in their area as part of Law Enforcement Appreciation Week, hosted by the Trenton-Dade Optimist Club.

Yet the most conspicuous group in the crowd might not have been the men and women in uniform, but the large assembly of students who penned essays about their local police, sang patriotic pieces, played taps for those killed in action and presented law enforcement leaders with posters and cards of thanks.

"This is a chance for them to see how important law enforcement is, especially in a small county," Optimist Club President Ann Brown said.

She said the community especially is appreciative of officers after their work in the wake of the April 2011 tornadoes.

"Since last year, they mean so much more to me. ... Every law enforcement officer was working 24/7. ... [Sheriff Patrick Cannon] put the county first," she said of the sheriff who worked to help Dade recover before repairing his own house.

Cannon's nominee for special recognition was Sgt. Scott Parker, a man who he said works tirelessly to keep drugs out of Dade. Citizens also have noticed his compassion, the sheriff noted.

"There are just so many [letters of commendation] in his file," he said.

Honoree Bill Bowman, a Georgia State Patrol master trooper set to retire in July, was honored for his decades of service. Thinking back, he said people only think of troopers writing tickets and don't realize how active they are in educating the community, especially through the DARE program.

"We work with kids constantly," he said, "from toddlers up to high school."

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