Oct. 4-Cobb Police Detective Zachary Stannard had been working with the department for nine years when he responded to a fatal shooting on Austell Road last year.
Stannard led the effort to bring justice to a father who was shot and killed while driving with his 8-year-old daughter in the back seat.
"Fortunately, the one child in the vehicle was not injured," Stannard told the crowd in his nomination video at the Cobb Chamber of Commerce's 2022 Public Safety Appreciation Breakfast on Monday. "She was able to be reunited with her mother."
Through old fashion detective work, Stannard was able to identify two suspect vehicles involved in the shooting: a black BMW and a white Lexus.
"I was able to identify the make and model of each suspect vehicle as well as the approximate year range of these vehicles and then began pulling law enforcement reports from all over the southeast," he said. "It took me months and months to go through hundreds if not thousands of law enforcement reports that mentioned anything to do with a black BMW."
Stannard's diligence and dedication paid off; he was able to uncover a police report in Atlanta involving both vehicles, taken a few months following the crime in Cobb.
"I kept digging and digging and the case snowballed from there," he said. "And from that one little police report, I was able to identify three suspects that were involved in the homicide."
Once Stannard had identified the suspects, he and several detectives from the unit traveled more than 700 miles away to Miami. There, they arrested all three suspects and obtained the vehicles involved with valuable ballistic evidence inside.
Stannard was one of many law enforcement officers, public safety officials and fire personnel who were honored at the breakfast. The awards ceremony kicks off a county-wide Public Safety Appreciation Week where community members make efforts to send messages, gift food, thank and celebrate first responders. More than 50 nominees were selected for the awards presented, amongst a crowd of their peers, business owners and community leaders at the Coca-Cola Roxy.
In addition to the awards and remarks from Sheriff Craig Owens and Randy Crider, the county's public safety director, the ceremony honored fallen public safety personnel. Among the officers honored in memoriam were Cobb County Sheriff Deputy Marshall Samual Ervin, Jr. and Deputy Jonathan Koleski, who were killed in the line of duty on Sept. 8.
The morning's keynote speaker was Lance LoRusso, an attorney who serves as general counsel to the Georgia State Lodge of the Fraternal Order of Police.
"Each individual and unit demonstrates integrity, responsibility and courage and the performance of their duties," he said. "So all of the nominees will be honored today. The group of men and women here with us today each has a story of how their dedication to duty and mission intersected with a person's life at a crucial time. A time when literally seconds counted. But there's another side of our public safety personnel that many don't get to see ... They are building connections that go well beyond the badges they wear on their chests."
The complete list of Monday's award recipients is as follows:
Public Safety Employee of the Year: Detective Zachary Stannard, Cobb County Police Department.
Medal of Valor: Capt. Jason Holcombe, Powder Springs Police Department.
Award of Merit: Lt. Michael Barnett, firefighter Adam Jones, firefighter Alan Futch, engineer Herbert Grimes, Squad 7 and Rescue 23 of the Cobb County Fire and Emergency Services.
Distinguished Achievement Award: Capt. Tim Cameron, Marietta Fire Department.
Outstanding Community Contribution: ECOII Theresa Carcioppolo, Cobb County Department of Emergency Communications; Officer Sarah Youngblood, Marietta Police Department.