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FORSYTH — Covington Police Officer Matt Cooper and National EMS Chief Operating Officer Benny Atkins of Conyers were among eight public safety professionals recognized by Gov. Brian P. Kemp at the Governor’s Public Safety Awards (GPSA) ceremony held Friday at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth. The recipients were given medallions and their names were added to the GPSA monument located inside the training center.

“Marty and I were honored to recognize Georgia’s law enforcement officers and emergency responders for their tireless efforts to ensure the safety of our communities,” said Kemp. “Every single day, these brave individuals put their lives on the line to keep us out of harm’s way, and we are deeply grateful for their service.”

The annual GPSA program began in 1998 to recognize public safety officers who go above and beyond the call of duty to protect citizens and make significant contributions to the public safety profession at large.

“The public safety profession is the cornerstone for an orderly society. It is a great honor to recognize these public safety professionals here today,” said Chris Wigginton, GPSTC director.

The GPSA program recognizes public safety professionals in the following two categories:

· Act of Heroism – Recognizes those who, within the previous year, performed an exceptional deed that resulted in saving lives and/or protecting property.

· Outstanding Contribution which Enhanced the Profession – Job performance that had an overwhelming positive effect on the overall profession.

Personnel from each discipline of public safety as well as state employees with public safety authority are eligible to receive the award. This year, nominations were submitted by local governments, state agencies, associations, police departments, sheriff’s offices, correctional facilities, fire departments, 911 communications offices, emergency medical services, emergency management agencies and private citizens.

Recipients of the 2019 Governor’s Public Safety Awards are as follows:

Heroism Recipients

· Matt Cooper, Covington Police Department

· Brandon Long, Georgia Department of Community Supervision

· Justin Ussery, Georgia Department of Community Supervision

· Telly S. Hartman, Georgia Department of Community Supervision

· Nick Perry, Georgia Department of Community Supervision

· Cassidy Gerstorff, Georgia Department of Natural Resources Law Enforcement Division

· Noreen A. Meeks, Glynn County Schools Police

Contribution to Profession Recipients

· J. Benny Atkins, National Emergency Medical System

Senior Reporter

Born and raised in Decatur, Ga. Graduated from Shorter College in Rome, Ga. in 1979 with B.A. in Communications. Worked in community newspapers for 26 years. Started at Rockdale Citizen/Newton Citizen in January 2016.

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