Cobb Chamber of Commerce

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Cobb Public Safety Heroes Honored at Awards Luncheon

The Cobb Chamber honored Cobb County’s finest Monday, October 5, during its annual Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon, presented by Cobb EMC and Wellstar, at the Coca-Cola Roxy. The hybrid event drew a sold-out, socially-distanced 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.

Vic Reynolds, director of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, served as keynote speaker and awards emcee, honoring each of the nominees and presenting the 2020 Public Safety Awards. 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 2020 Public Safety Award winners:

Public Safety Employee of the Year

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 2020 Public Safety Employee of the Year received a handgun courtesy of GLOCK.


Deputy Tyrone Reid, Cobb County Sheriff’s Office
Deputy Sheriff Tyrone Reid is a 23 year veteran of the Cobb County Sheriff’s Office, currently assigned to the Transport Unit of the Detention Division.

In March of 2020, while off duty, Deputy Reid was sitting in his personal vehicle at the Lenox Square Mall when he observed five males, followed by another male, exit the mall in a verbal altercation. Suddenly, the single male punched one of the men in the group, knocking him to the ground. Deputy Reid immediately exited his vehicle to prevent any further altercation, but prior to making contact, one of the group produced a firearm and fired two shots into the head of the Hispanic male, who was later pronounced dead at the scene.

Before Deputy Reid could get close enough to challenge them, the five males quickly entered their vehicle and sped off. Before making it out of the parking lot, their vehicle struck another car entering the parking lot. Four of the males immediately exited the vehicle and fled on foot. Deputy Reid then approached the wrecked vehicle, drawing his service weapon and giving commands to the fifth suspect to exit the vehicle and lie on the ground. The suspect complied with Deputy Reid’s instructions, which allowed him to contact 911 while continuing to cover the suspect. Deputy Reid held the suspect at gunpoint until multiple Atlanta Police Department units arrived. Deputy Reid turned the suspect over to the Atlanta Officers and subsequently provided a full statement to the lead detective for the investigation into the four other suspects.

Deputy Reid’s actions while off duty were heroic and representative of the finest that law enforcement has to offer.

Awards of Merit

• Officer Matt Smith, Kennesaw Police Department
• Office of Victim Services, Kennesaw State University Police
• MPD Crime Interdiction Unit, Marietta 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.

Officer Matt Smith, Kennesaw Police Department
In December of 2019, Officer Smith, a three-year veteran with the City of Kennesaw, was assigned to night watch and was dispatched to a medical call involving a 5-year-old boy with developmental disabilities. Upon Officer Smith’s arrival on the scene, he quickly determined that the child was not breathing and had an obstructed airway.

Though the Fire Department and EMS had not yet arrived on the scene, he worked to clear the child’s airway and began CPR, successfully resuscitating the child. Due to the child’s developmental disabilities, additional medical aid could not be immediately rendered and the child stopped breathing again. Officer Smith, along with arriving EMS personnel were able to resuscitate the child a second time and stabilize him for further medical treatment.

Officer Smith’s quick and decisive actions on that night, only two years into his public safety career, directly resulted in a child’s life being saved.

Office of Victim Services, Kennesaw State University Police
The Kennesaw State University Office of Victim Services consists of three victim services/advocate professionals, Director Tanya Smith, Victim Services Coordinator Kelly Burkes, and Victim Advocate Jessica Aguirre, who serve KSU’s 38,000+ students, faculty, and staff. The primary goals of the OVS are to aid in reducing trauma to the crime victim, reduce the level of secondary injury associated with the aftermath of crime, and to aid in the prosecution of criminal cases.

The OVS team is extremely responsive to every call and stays with their clients from the time they are contacted through completion of each client’s court case or administrative process. All three members are exceptionally empathetic, compassionate, and knowledgeable professionals, dedicated to the wellbeing of their clients and careful to provide the necessary support and resources needed after a traumatic event.

The KSU Office of Victim Services is an invaluable resource within the KSU ecosystem, encouraging the voices of victims and supporting them the entire way through the criminal justice process, the victims’ bill of rights, and the victims’ compensation options. Without them, many voices would go unheard.

MPD Crime Interdiction Unit, Marietta Police Department
The Marietta Police Department Crime Interdiction Unit, well known as a top-notch narcotics investigation team, is comprised of Sergeant Josh Liedke, Agent Kelsey Bedford, Agent Kenyon Jackson, Agent Joseph Jenkins, Agent Michael Malcolm, K-9 Handler Joseph Powell and K9 Jacquo.
The unit is constantly involved in large scale drug and gang investigations that truly make the City of Marietta a safer place to live, work and play. In addition to investigations generated within the city limits of Marietta, the unit has also become a dependable point of contact for other local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies to share information and partner with enforcement actions.

On a daily basis, CIU deals with some of the most violent offenders within Metro Atlanta. They consistently remove dangerous criminals, illegal narcotics, and weapons from our community. Teamwork is always a vital component of their daily operations. The aforementioned cases, only a portion of those successfully completed by the team, require a tremendous amount of investigative skill, countless hours of surveillance and superior tactical skills. The MPD Crime Interdiction Unit consistently rise to the occasion in a professional and safe manner.

Distinguished Achievement Award

• Battalion Chief Stephen Westbrook, Smyrna Fire Department
• Training Manager Krista Tillman, Puckett EMS

The Distinguished Achievement Award recognizes an individual whose service and performance has exceeded the demands of the job.

Battalion Chief Stephen Westbrook, Smyrna Fire Department
In July of 2019, units from the Smyrna Fire Department responded to a report of a fire at the S.P. Richards building, a sprawling structure that was at 99 percent storage at the time of the incident. There were heavy fire conditions reported through both 911 callers and first apparatus on scene. When Battalion Chief Stephen Westbrook arrived to take Command, he was taking Command of what would be the largest structure fire in the City of Smyrna Fire Department’s history.

The contents of the building were predominantly office products, office furniture and office cleaning supplies, including a large quantity of aerosol cans. These materials burn quickly, produce large quantities of smoke and have high thermal energy release rates. Many of the products on display were easily ignited and supported rapid fire spread and growth.

Ultimately, Chief Westbrook’s 28 years of public safety experience set the stage for a successful handling of an incident that would involve seven different fire departments and stretch over a week. His quick thinking and ability to establish early command and control over the size of the incident led to a safe, positive and streamlined event.

Training Manager Krista Tillman, Puckett EMS
A 15-year public safety veteran, each step of Training Manager Krista Tillman’s career advancement has seen her make a significant impact on her peers and community. During an early tenure as a Field Paramedic, Krista was the recipient of several awards for excellent patient care. She was the recipient of the 2009 Lazurus Award for the successful resuscitation of a pulse-less patient. In 2010, she received the IMPACT Award for the critical management of a severely injured patient that would have perished without her immediate intervention.

As EMS Program Director, Krista led Puckett's initial education programs to one of the highest success rates in the National Registry’s cognitive testing, demonstrating how instrumental she was in the development and education of new EMT's and Paramedics.

Krista also manages CARES (Cardiac Arrest to Enhance Survival) for Puckett EMS. This national registry database offers profound scientific data to help treat victims of sudden cardiac arrest. Through Krista's direct involvement, Puckett EMS maintains one of the highest survival rates for out of hospital cardiac arrest.

Krista continues to operate as a shining example of an individual committed to making a difference. If it were not for her, Puckett EMS would not be the successful organization it is today. Caring, Commitment, Community are the cornerstone values of Puckett EMS, and these values hold true for Krista Tillman.

Outstanding Community Contribution

• Firefighter Ron Presley, Marietta Fire Department
• Lieutenant Michael Goins, Marietta Police Department
• Detective Evan Wallace, Acworth Police Department

The Outstanding Community Contribution Award recognizes an individual who epitomizes what it means to be a community-oriented public servant.

Firefighter Ron Presley, Marietta Fire Department
An 18-year veteran of the Marietta Fire Department, Firefighter Ron Presley is known as an important asset to his department and compassionate figure within his community. He leads by example, mentoring potential MFD candidates through coordination with its training division and as lead instructor for the department’s swift water rescue class.

Outside the department, Ron has made personal relationships with members of the community. Across the street from Marietta Station 52 is an elderly resident who lives alone, is unable to drive to the grocery store, and has difficulty cooking for herself. Each shift, Ron takes a few moments to visit, provide a meal, and check on her well-being. Last spring, she expressed a desire to sit outside and enjoy the weather. Ron prepared a small area in her backyard with stepping-stones and a table and chair. He then repaired her ramp so she could walk outside and enjoy her new sitting area.

For many years, Firefighter Presley has also served as a team leader for animal rescue missions. After natural disasters, he has traveled both domestically and abroad to rescue family pets. On his off days, Ron often volunteers with “Forgotten Paws,” a local animal shelter. He is a shining example to his department as a public safety professional dedicated to his work and community.

Lieutenant Michael Goins, Marietta Police Department
A dedicated public safety veteran of 36 years, Lieutenant Michael Goins’ leads the Marietta Police Department’s newest initiative to combat and prevent repeating opioid-related overdose events: ASSIST (Active Substance Intervention Solutions Team). The program attempts to redirect those who become addicted to opioids and save them from the deadly cycle of addiction. The ASSIST Team offers several important touchpoints to overdose survivors, including plain-clothes visits, recovery resources and one-on-one conversations. Since the program’s inception, the ASSIST Team has had contact with nearly 40 overdose survivors.

In August of 2019, Marietta Police Officers responded to a call of an unconscious woman at her residence. The woman was found with no breath or heartbeat. After receiving CPR and two doses of Narcan, the woman slowly regained consciousness. Within 24 hours, an ASSIST Team member had contacted the victim at her home. She explained that she had begun taking synthetic opioids after a recent divorce, and had quickly become addicted. She was receptive to the ASSIST Program, and soon appeared at a recommended recovery facility to start on the path to reclaiming her life. This accomplishment truly embodies the spirit of the ASSIST Program and Michael’s hard work and determination to ensure its success.

Beyond his commitment to the safety and well-being of his community, Michael currently serves as the President of the Marietta Police Athletic League (PAL) Board of Directors. He was instrumental in forming the Marietta PAL chapter, through which Marietta can utilize sports as a basis for positive interaction between police officers and the community’s youth.

Detective Evan Wallace, Acworth Police Department
Detective Evan Wallace has been a law enforcement officer for nearly a decade, but he has the youthful determination and excitement of a first-year officer. Out in the community, he is able to quickly establish trust, and his personality enables him to deescalate most situations quickly. He thinks quickly, makes great decisions, and maintains control at all times. Even when presented with cases with few leads, Detective Wallace’s tenacity and persistence has often enabled him to solve some of the most difficult cases.

Aside from his ability to expertly unravel challenging cases, Detective Wallace is often recognized for his extreme empathy. He believes that he should treat others not just as he would want to be treated, but as he would want a member of his own family to be treated. He recently responded to a case of a moped that was stolen from an apartment complex. The owner of the moped had a developmental disability, and the vehicle was his only means of transportation back and forth to his workplace. When the moped was located, it was towed to a salvage yard and would only be returned for a fee of $350. It disheartened Detective Wallace to think that the victim of a crime would have to pay just to retrieve his own property. Even worse, he drove the owner to the salvage yard to pick up the vehicle, but they discovered that the moped was completely destroyed and inoperable. Detective Wallace saw this as an opportunity to help.

Recognizing that the owner did not have the funds to purchase a new vehicle, and would be unable to work without it, Detective Wallace took up a collection for the purchase of a new moped. Then, he arranged for the new moped to be delivered to the owner at his home.  The man was overjoyed when Acworth Police Department officers surprised him with a brand new moped.

Detective Wallace went well above and beyond the call of duty to ensure that the man would be able to continue working, and also to know that his police department is here for him if he is in need.

Medal of Valor

Officers Andrew Abernathy and Quinius Lyles, Cobb County Police 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.

In December 2019, Officer Quinius Lyles responded to a frantic call from a male reporting that another male was shooting at him in his home. As Officer Lyles approached the house in his vehicle, the male suspect fired through the window at Officer Lyles and then fled in his vehicle. Officer Lyles remained calm and provided directions to dispatch, which allowed responding units to locate the vehicle and suspect nearby.

Officer Lyles kicked the door in at the home and found a female and juvenile male, each with gunshot wounds. The female did not respond to medical aid, and passed away on scene. Officer Lyles applied a tourniquet to the juvenile male to stem blood loss. The young man was rushed to the hospital in critical condition, but stabilized with aid. Doctors at Kennestone reported that without Officer Lyles’ quick action, the juvenile would have suffered severe blood loss and loss of life.

After receiving the vehicle description of the suspect involved in the murder and the assault, Officer Andrew Abernathy pursued. The suspect’s vehicle reached speeds of over 100 mph, drove on the wrong side of the road, and blew through traffic signals, exposing Officer Abernathy to extreme personal risk. Not accepting an outcome of the suspect fleeing, Officer Abernathy mitigated risk and was able to keep up with the vehicle until a minor traffic collision ended the pursuit. The suspect was safely taken into custody and no members of the public were injured.

Without the expert care and calm actions of Officers Quinius Lyles and Andrew Abernathy, the tragedy could have easily become a catastrophic event. Their actions directly saved one life and safeguarded the public.

The 2020 Public Safety Appreciation Luncheon was made possible with the support of our event sponsors, including Platinum Sponsors, Cobb EMC and Wellstar; Awards Sponsor, LoRusso Law Firm; Gold Sponsor, Genuine Parts Company; Silver Sponsors, C.W. Matthews, GLOCK, Governors Gun Club, Marietta Family Catering, Marietta Wrecker, MetroAtlanta Ambulance Service, Puckett EMS, Six Flags Over Georgia, and Vinings Bank; and Patriot Sponsors, All Roof Solutions, E. Smith Heating & Air, Firehouse Subs, Gregory Doyle Calhoun & Rogers, Georgia Power, LGE Community Credit Union, Northside Hospital, T&T Uniforms and Walton Communities.

Thank you to our Marquee Monday sponsors Superior Plumbing, the Coca-Cola Roxy, Delaware North, Next Page Events and Peachtree Tents and Events.

To read the biographies of all of the 2020 Public Safety Award nominees, click here.
For the latest information on Public Safety Appreciation Week, visit, or contact Katie Guice at [email protected].