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Ceremony honors law enforcements best
Kiwanis awards 5 men at 15th annual ceremony
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Brad Raper

Award winners

The Kiwanis Club awarded these five with the John W. Jacobs Sr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement

  • Investigator Brad Raper, Gainesville Police Department
  • Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, Hall County Sheriff’s Office
  • Trooper 1st Class Brodie Forrester, Georgia State Patrol Post-6 Gainesville
  • Officer Jeffery Dunn, Hall County Correctional Institution
  • Cpl. Jason Roberson, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division 

Those men and women who serve in law enforcement put their lives on the line every day to keep their communities safe.

The Gainesville Kiwanis Club on Tuesday honored five of those men with the John W. Jacobs Sr. Memorial Award for Excellence in Law Enforcement. The 15th annual awards ceremony was held in conjunction with National Peace Officer Memorial Day.

“These folks that we’re honoring today represent the best of our neighborhoods, our counties, our state and our nation. And we are strengthened and inspired by their example,” Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens said.

The awards were given to Gainesville Police Department Investigator Brad Raper, Hall County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Stephen Wilbanks, Georgia State Patrol Trooper 1st Class Brodie Forrester, Hall County Correctional Officer Jeffery Dunn and Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division Cpl. Jason Roberson.

Both Forrester and Roberson accepted the award for the second time.

Each of the recipients was introduced by a representative of his department who gave specific examples of his dedication to serving and protecting the community.

Dunn was recognized for his dependability, teamwork and motivation, Forrester for his excellence in the area of drug and DUI enforcement.

All of the officers were commended for their professionalism, integrity and exemplary character.

Some were recognized for specific situations where those traits were given the opportunity to shine.

Wilbanks was honored for his role in the successful capture of a murder suspect in Little River Park last September.

The suspect was found asleep in his car, parked in a secluded section of the park. Wilbanks identified the man and held him at gunpoint until deputies could arrive.

“It is actions such as this that serve as proof that Sgt. Wilbanks has a philosophy that no matter what type of duty is assigned, he is first and foremost a sworn peace officer whose primary dedication is to protect and serve,” Sheriff Steve Cronic said.

To be a successful negotiator in crisis situations, it takes life experience and patience, said Gainesville Police Chief Brian Kelly, who recognized Raper for his skill in negotiations. Kelly particularly cited Raper’s swift work in negotiating with a father who held his 4-year-old daughter at knifepoint a few weeks ago. Kelly noted that negotiations often take hours. In this instance, it took only 38 minutes before the child was safe with her mother and the father was taken into custody where he could receive the help he needed.

Raper said it takes a team to do the things he and his fellow officers do every day.

“The safe resolution of the incident we talked about with the well-trained men and women working with me, I couldn’t have done it without them,” Raper said.

Those in law enforcement often find themselves working against the clock in dangerous situations.

When others were ready to call off the search for a 14-year-old boy with autism who was lost on Lake Lanier, Roberson persevered. Within a few hours he brought an end to the family’s nightmare and found the child alone on a personal watercraft in the middle of the lake. The child was already suffering from hypothermia.

“I feel like God puts us in places. Each and every one of us he gives us the ability and the opportunity to do his will and we seek that and it happens,” Roberson said. “I feel blessed to stand here in front of you today and wear this uniform and work for you.”

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