A deputy with the McDuffie County Sheriff's Department and a longtime trooper with the Georgia State Patrol have been honored as "Law Enforcement Officers of The Year" by the American Society for Industrial Security.
Receiving the prestigious honors at a banquet in Augusta last Thursday night were Deputy Sgt. First Class Mike Hobbs and Senior Trooper Tommy Crafton who works out of the Georgia State Patrol Post in Thomson.
During the banquet, Larry Arszman, of Proctor & Gamble in Augusta, addressed those attending as the guest speaker. For the past several years, the CSRA Chapter 182 of ASIS has recognized area law enforcement officers during their appreciation night banquet.
ASIS International is the world's largest organization for security professionals with more than 35,000 members around the globe.
"I am deeply honored to have received this recognition," said Sgt. Hobbs during an interview on Tuesday. "When I first found out about having been nominated for this honor, I was really surprised."
Sgt. Hobbs began his law enforcement career as a jailer in 1987 when William Swan served as sheriff of the county. Two years later, he was promoted to the road patrol where he served until being promoted to the rank of road patrol sergeant by McDuffie County Sheriff Logan Marshall.
Today, Sgt. Hobbs, whose wife, Judy, serves as a secretary with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region 7 Office in Thomson, supervises all road patrol operations. Sgt. Hobbs also ensures that all paperwork done by deputies is complete and approved by him before being passed on to the clerk of the records bureau. Such paperwork also includes wreck reports handled by deputies. He has amassed more than 1,000 hours of advanced training in various areas of law enforcement, including emergency vehicle operations, radar operator training, advance traffic law, intoximeter operations course, crime scene processing and emergency response to terrorism.
In addition, Sgt. Hobbs also teaches alcohol and drug awareness classes at area high schools. He also serves as a firearms instructor with the sheriff's department.
"It is my honor to submit Sgt. First Class Michael Hobbs as my recommendation to ASIS International, Central Savannah River Area Chapter 182, to be recognized for his meritorious service to this agency and the citizens of McDuffie County," Sheriff Marshall wrote in a letter to officials of ASIS.
"Mike is always willing to lend his time and experience to any social, civic or business activity that benefits the citizens of McDuffie County," said Sheriff Marshall. "Mike is always there to provide leadership and support to his officers. Mike is the type of supervisor an administrator is proud to have serving their agency. Supervisors such as this ensure the citizens have professional and dependable public servants ready to serve them."
Sgt. Hobbs is the father of four - three sons and a daughter.
He likes his job the most when he can do some good. "I really enjoy helping people," said Sgt. Hobbs.
The deputy sheriff and Senior Trooper Crafton received plaques honoring their commitment and dedication to law enforcement.
Trooper Crafton, who makes his home in Thomson, recently got remarried. His new bride is Kelli Crafton. He has a daughter, Kalli, 11, a rising sixth grader at Thomson Middle School.
He began his law enforcement career in 1987 with his hometown police department in McRae, Ga. He later joined the Georgia State Patrol where he has worked for the past 19 years. Trooper Crafton is assigned to Area E of the Safety Education Unit, which is spread over a 21-county region. His office is located at the Thomson GSP post.
"I am honored and I am thankful to my supervisor for having nominated me," said Trooper Crafton. He was nominated for the honor by Lt. David Cody. "I'm still surprised about having received this honor, because there are so many great officers who help protect and serve in the State of Georgia."
Trooper Crafton said he enjoys helping people in need.
"I like being able to help someone who has been involved in a traffic accident or just changing a tire for a stranded motorist," said Trooper Crafton. "I'm also fond of being able to go into a classroom to help educate that beginning driver."
He said each day that he serves as a state trooper brings on a new memorable experience. "Each one of them has its own way of touching you," said Trooper Crafton.
Lt. Cody described Trooper Crafton as "a very dedicated employee." He helps in combating the problems of teen driving fatalities and under age consumption of alcohol, added Lt. Cody. Trooper Crafton also helps to educate parents and children in public and private school systems about the dangers of poor decision making.
Trooper Crafton also serves as a counselor and mentor at the American Legion's Boys State Camp.
Lt. Cody said Trooper Crafton is always an alert trooper - no matter what the circumstances.
Earlier this year, Trooper Crafton was returning to the post from lunch and observed a traffic violation involving a tractor-trailer truck near Thomson.
"He made the stop and through his alertness and experience, subsequently, conducted a search of the vehicle, which resulted in the discovery of $120,000 in a hidden compartment," said Lt. Cody. "The money is believed to have been obtained from illicit drugs hauled in the vehicle."