Dozens showed up Thursday evening to support the at the city's 3rd Annual Appreciation and Dinner Awards Ceremony.
The ceremony recognized more than a dozen officers, lieutenants, detectives, sergeants, colonels and others in the police department for their outstanding service and work. Voted by their peers, the awards were given out to those who showed dedication, went beyond the line of duty and showed a good work ethic.
"It's just my way of thanking the Norcross Police Department and to thank them for being so supportive of the community," said Gwendolyn Johns, a teacher and Norcross resident who originally came up with the idea of a police awards ceremony.
The idea started a few years ago when Johns asked Norcross PD for some help on how to deal with a personal incident. "After they gave me the suggestions and told me how to handle this incident that I had, it turned out very well," she said.
Not long after that, she approached Arlene Beckles, the outreach chair for the Norcross Arts Alliance and chair of the Imagination Committee, about holding a breakfast or dinner for the officers to thank them.
"I wanted to cook for them," Johns said. "That's how it started."
All of the food was catered Thursday, by local restaurants , , and even . The supplied the flower centerpieces. The event was hosted by .
With Sedric Drew returning as the Master of Ceremonies, the evening was filled with jokes. A prayer was led by Norcross PD Chaplin Melvin Melton. Musician Mark Tucker also returned to perform jazz on the piano before the awards were announced.
Mayor Bucky Johnson also said a few words, in addition to handing out the awards with Police Chief Dallas Stidd.
"It really creates such a fantastic community to have people who care so much to help put this on," said the mayor.
The dinner also had many touching moments. The Rev. Terry Fleming of the Norcross First UMC spoke about the special officers who serve Norcross.
"When you put on those uniforms and you step into your role as a public servant, you stand for something greater than yourself," he said. "You stand for us, for all of us, and you stand for our community, and that means more to us that words can express."
With Chief Stidd announcing the awards and the mayor handing them out, the following officers were awarded plaques and other tokens of appreciation for their hard work:
- Officer of the Year: Detective Beverly Parnell
- Helping Hands Award: Connie Weathers
- Meritorious Service Award: Sergeant Russell Knox and Officer Adrian McKinnon
- Chief's Award of Merit: Leisa Grace
- Top Gun: Officer Jayson Sobhani
- Supervisor of the Year: Sergeant Mary Williford
- Communications Officer of the Year: Jessica Cisneros
- Ambassador Award (Sworn): Officer Jennifer Gardner
- Ambassador of the Year (Non-Sworn): Leisa Grace
- Distinguished Service (Sworn): Detective Kenneth Ferguson
- Distinguished Service (Non-Sworn): Colonel Raymond Smith
- Commendations: Officer Vincent Cardwell, Officer Robert Wolfe, Colonel Ramond Smith, Detective Beverly Parnell, Lieutenant Doug Morphis, Detective Kenneth Ferguson, Sergeant Mary Williford, Sergeant Bill Grogan, Detective Justin Seigel