Liberty County Sheriff Steve Sikes recognized several of his deputies and detectives Thursday when he handed out letters of commendation and meritorious-service awards during a brief ceremony at the justice center.
“Sheriff Sikes is really big about recognizing all the long hours and hard work the deputies and detectives put in for the department,” said Chief Deputy Keith Moran, who assisted Sikes in handing out the certificates and letters.
Sgt. Ralph Dixson and Cpl. Michelle Poertner received letters of commendation for outstanding duty performance.
Sikes said the deputies were on regular patrol June 21 when they were dispatched to a burglary in progress on Briar Bay Road in Riceboro. Usually, by the time authorities arrive at a call, Sikes said, the odds of nabbing a suspect at the scene aren’t great, but Dixson and Poertner’s swift response resulted in the apprehension of the suspect and the recovery of the stolen property.
“I know how much the victim of a crime must appreciate your dedication and hard work, and it is my pleasure to commend you on a job well done,” Sikes said.
Capt. Dennis Davis, Detective Charles Woodall, Detective James Chapman, Detective Tracy Jennings, Detective Frank McLeland and Cpl. Shane Brazier also received letters of commendation.
“It’s never a single effort by one person — there are always people behind the scenes, and this is a letter of commendation for a group of people involved in a murder and robbery investigation,” Moran said.
In January, LCSO deputies and detectives responded to a reported stabbing. The preliminary investigation, led by Detective James Chapman, alleged that Terry Floyd Jr. attempted to buy marijuana from Trevon Walthour, who reportedly tried to rob Floyd of $600. A struggle ensued and Walthour reportedly stabbed Floyd to death. Two accomplices either assisted in the robbery, murder or tampered with evidence, according to the investigation. Within 72 hours, each suspect had been identified and arrested.
“It is without a doubt that we have some of the most outstanding detectives in the state of Georgia,” Sikes said. “I want to personally thank each of you for your dedication and hard work.”
In addition to his letter of commendation, Chapman received a meritorious service award.
“James came to us with a great deal of experience after working over in Albany, Ga. … Every place does things different, and a murder investigation involves boxes (of evidence), but in my experience, I have never read such a thorough and complete case file — especially involving a detective that has been with us for only a short period of time,” Moran said.
“Detective Chapman’s excellent organizational skills and meticulous efforts have resulted in an outstanding investigation that demonstrates his dedication and devotion to duty,” Sikes added.
Detective Julie Hibbeler also received a meritorious-service award for her work resulting in the arrest of two suspects for burglary and criminal damage at Midway Middle School in January.
“After documenting thousands of dollars in needless vandalism, Detective Hibbeler meticulously pursued every possible lead to solve this difficult investigation,” Sikes said. “Her abilities as a detective set the standard for her peers and subordinates. She is a credit to her profession.”
Deputy Dennis Abbgy earned a meritorious-service award for going above and beyond regular duty.
Between December 2011 and July 2012, Abbgy has effected more felony arrests than any other deputy in recent history, and Sikes said his attention to detail and patrol techniques generated an investigation into a methamphetamine-manufacturing operation. Two felony marijuana arrests were made — one of which was a prison employee allegedly smuggling contraband to inmates. A burglary arrest also was made, and stolen property was recovered.
“Plain and simple, I am proud to be sheriff of Liberty County because of you guys right here,” Sikes said. “It’s a big job and sometimes overwhelming, but if we all stick together and focus on the same goals, we can make a better Liberty County, and I really appreciate each and every one of you.”