14th Annual Golden Shield Honors
On April 10, 2018, over 620 people gathered to honor and celebrate law enforcement officers and agencies, DUI prosecutors, and community advocates who make a difference in the effort to eliminate drunk driving. For the past 14 years, the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety has been the Strategic Partner of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD Georgia) to honor these heroes.
Thanks to the support of our Strategic Partner – the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety, Presenting Sponsor – Georgia Automobile Dealers Association, Mission Partner – The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation, Premier Sponsor – AAA, MADD’s Statewide LER Sponsor – Buck Rogers, and the Victim Table Sponsor – LexisNexis, MADD Georgia was able to recognize the outstanding achievements of the law enforcement and criminal justice communities.
MADD Georgia State Executive Director Debbie Day welcomed those in attendance with her opening remarks, “The Golden Shield Honors is one of the most rewarding events we host. Honoring our public service heroes who risk their lives for Georgians every day is even more meaningful at a time when alcohol-related fatalities are on the increase in our state.”
Angela Blank, MADD Georgia State Advisory Council Member, attended representing The Arthur M. Blank Family Foundation and introduced the keynote speaker Peter J. Skandalakis.
Peter J. Skandalakis is a career prosecutor currently serving as the Executive Director for the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia. Prior to his appointment, he spent his entire legal career as a prosecutor in the Coweta Judicial Circuit after graduating from law school in 1984. He began as an Assistant District Attorney, was promoted to Chief Assistant in 1987, and was appointed to the District Attorney in 1992, serving a total of six terms.
The Pledge of Allegiance was led by the Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety and the Colonel of the Georgia State Patrol, Colonel Mark McDonough.
Every MADD Georgia event features a Mission Moment that puts a face and a name to the stories behind MADD’s mission to eliminate drunk driving. MADD Georgia State Advisory Council Member, Amy Sands, shared the story of Emily Bowman.
Emily was struck from behind as a pedestrian by a pickup truck and left on the pavement as the driver sped away in Athens, Georgia on February 16, 2013. Emily was not able to speak or move and underwent brain surgery as the first step on her long, courageous journey to recovery. That path included intensive therapy, and after 14 months, she spoke her first words. Through hard work and determination, Emily is now able to walk with a cane and spends her time sharing her story at MADD Georgia Victim Impact Panels, schools, and other groups. Her inspirational outlook and words of caution against the dangers of drunk driving have reached thousands in Georgia.
Emily is the 2018 Highlighted Victim and will also be featured at the upcoming 2018 Mercedes-Benz Stadium 5K/Walk Like MADD. MADD Georgia is grateful to Emily and her family for sharing her story of hope!
Georgia’s Fallen Heroes were remembered at this year’s Golden Shield Honors through a video tribute and photo presentation. Clayton County Commissioner Felicia Franklin-Warner was the featured vocalist during the video presentation that honored Georgia’s Fallen Heroes and their dedication to keeping our communities safe. Retired Georgia State Patrol Captain Buddy Johnson served as the Master of Ceremonies and thanked the family and friends of the fallen officers for sharing them with the citizens of Georgia before their lives were tragically cut too short.
The Golden Shield Honors is the paramount achievement for the state’s initiative to keep impaired drivers off of our roads, increase awareness of the consequences of driving under the influence, and impact DUI legislation. Our law enforcement partners work tirelessly to end the senseless act of drunk and drugged driving. Each law enforcement officer in attendance received a MADD Challenge Coin as a token of appreciation for their bravery and dedication. The Challenge Coins were sponsored by MADD Georgia State Advisory Council Member and Statewide LER Sponsor Buck Rogers and were presented to officers leading the fight to keep our roads safe.
Every year, MADD Georgia presents officers with DUI achievement pins for annual accomplishments in total DUI arrests. In 2018, 330 officers in the state of Georgia were eligible to receive this honor by reaching a minimum of 25 DUI arrests. Bronze pins are bestowed upon officers with 25-49 arrests, and 215 officers received this honor. Officers with 50-99 arrests receive the silver pin, and 88 officers were honored with this distinction. The prestigious gold pin is awarded to officers with 100-149 DUI arrests and 23 officers received this honor. Officers who attained a benchmark of 150+ DUI arrests or more are given the highest honor – the MADD Georgia red pin – and 4 officers achieved this coveted pin.
MADD Georgia and the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety present Drug Recognition Experts (DREs) with a pin to signify their commitment to thorough completion of evaluations throughout the year. There were 63 officers that received this honor and each completed a minimum of 15 evaluations. The red pin is bestowed upon officers with 15-24 evaluations and 29 officers were named red pin winners. Officers with 25-49 evaluations receive the white pin and 24 honorees received the white pin. The prestigious blue pin is awarded to officers with 50-99 evaluations and 8 officers received this honor. Officers who completed 100 or more evaluations are given the highest honor – the MADD Georgia gold pin – and 2 officers received this distinguished honor.
Statewide award recipients for 2018 were nominated by their supervisors and colleagues and selected by judges from the MADD state offices of California, Rhode Island, and Texas. Awards were given to honor Officer and Agency DUI Heroes, Statewide Officer and Rookie of the Year, DRE and DRE Instructor of the Year, Statewide Agency and Post of the Year, H.E.A.T Unit/DUI Task Force of the Year, the Georgia Traffic Enforcement Network Award, Prosecutor of the Year Award and the Golden Achievement Award.
MADD Georgia congratulates all honorees and sincerely thanks them for their efforts to keep our roads and communities safe from the tragic crimes of drunk and drugged driving.
MADD Georgia would like to thank the following for their annual donation of door prizes: Amy and Dr. Skip Sands, Buck Rogers, The Atlanta Falcons, Atlanta United FC, The Atlanta Braves, Fernbank Museum of Natural History, Center for Puppetry Arts, Treetop Quest, Georgia Department of Driver Services, HALTZGLOVES, LLC., Lexis Nexis, Smart Start, Inc., and Stalker Radar.
There were many who worked diligently to ensure the success of the event and MADD Georgia is grateful to all MADD volunteers, presenters, and our event partners – Behave LLC., Technical Productions, and the Cobb Galleria Centre for the countless hours of preparation and execution.
Congratulations to the 2018 Golden Shield Honors recipients:
OFFICER DUI HEROES
CATEGORY 1: Jim Shingler, Seminole County Sheriffs Office, 85
CATEGORY 2: Matthew Lynn, Lyons Police Department, 103
CATEGORY 3: Benny Pena, Norcross Police Department, 103
CATEGORY 4: Steven Smith, Rome Police Department, 90 DUI Arrests
CATEGORY 5: John Thompson IV, Hall County Sheriff’s Office, 135
CATEGORY 6: Richard Justice, Richmond County Sheriffs Office, 348
CATEGORY 7: Caleb Wickstrom, Georgia State Patrol – Nighthawks South, 131
AGENCY DUI HEROES
CATEGORY 1: Seminole County Sheriff’s Office, 222
CATEGORY 2: Lyons Police Department, 165
CATEGORY 3: Port Wentworth Police Department, 316
CATEGORY 4: Rome Police Department, 439
CATEGORY 5: Henry County Police Department, 440
CATEGORY 6: Cobb County Police Department, 1567
CATEGORY 7: Georgia State Patrol – Valdosta, 315
OFFICER OF THE YEAR
Jeremy Swain, Georgia State Patrol – Post 31 Valdosta
ROOKIE OF THE YEAR
Kenneth Strickland, Georgia State Patrol – Post 42 Rincon
DRE OF THE YEAR
Officer Travis Gibson, Clayton Police Department
DRE INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR
Jonathan Fuss, Georgia Police Academy
AGENCY OF THE YEAR
Milledgeville Police Department
POST OF THE YEAR
Georgia State Patrol – Post 25 Grovetown
HEAT/DUI TASK FORCE OF THE YEAR
Hall County/Gainesville HEAT Unit
TRAFFIC ENFORCEMENT NETWORK OF THE YEAR
Northeast Traffic Enforcement Network
PROSECUTOR OF THE YEAR
Sharell Lewis, Bibb County Solicitor’s Office