During its signature luncheon Thursday at 103 West, the Buckhead Business Association honored three public safety officers and one of its members and the Buckhead Coalition gave out two surprise awards.
Atlanta Police Officer Gregory Lawrence, Fulton County Sheriff’s Lt. Brian McGee and Atlanta Fire Rescue Capt. Keith Hall were singled out by their supervisors.
Lawrence was honored for arresting one of two suspects who allegedly robbed a SunTrust Bank branch at 1221 Chattahoochee Ave. May 16.
“Zone 2 received a silent alarm holdup call. … Lawrence proceeded to the location, and was met by bank employees,” Mark Shaver, the association’s vice president of public safety, said while announcing the officer of the quarter awards. “He quickly obtained a description of the two subjects, and gave a ‘lookout’ over the radio on the two armed and dangerous suspects. Sgt. Singh arrived on scene and directed the officers as they began a search of the immediate area. Both subjects had entered the woods across the street and changed some of their clothing. Officer Lawrence observed two subjects matching the description exiting the woods behind the business at 1280 Chattahoochee Ave. When the subjects observed Officer Lawrence’s patrol car, they split up and fled on foot.
“Officer Lawrence gave chase and soon apprehended one of the subjects. He also recovered several pieces of evidence including clothing, currency and a mask. The second subject was taken into custody a short time later. Both of the arrestees had extensive records including carjacking and bank robbery.”
Of the award, Lawrence said, “It feels fantastic just to be recognized. This department as so many officers, and to be recognized for that one incident feels good.”
McGee was honored for the second year in a row. He serves as a community liaison for the association and attends some meetings. The 20-year veteran also started the Gang Resistance Education and Training program, which recently had 350 students graduate from, and he educates senior citizens on safety, fraud and scams. In addition, McGee is spearheading the second Homeless Initiation Aug. 4 and started the first Fulton County Citizens Academy program.
“It feels great because when people appreciate the hard efforts we do, it’s wonderful because this is a thankless job,” he said. “I have enjoyed working with the kids and the senior citizens in this county. My goal and job is to keep as many kids out of jail as possible.”
Hall was honored for “not one act of courage but for a career of great service,” Shaver said. Hall, who began his career in 1990, has served as commander of Fire Station 26 in Buckhead for the last seven years.
“It feels great,” he said. “On behalf of all the men and women [working for] the city of Atlanta, this is a great honor not just for me but for the city as a whole.”
In an email after the luncheon, Shaver said of the awards, “While BBA’s primary focus is on the business community of Buckhead, we also serve the Buckhead community at large. And because we do serve the larger community, who better to recognize these outstanding people who spend their lives in service to this community? I think it’s not only important we recognize them; I believe it is part of our reason for being.”
Elizabeth Gill, a past association president, received the Karl A. Bevins Award for her service to the organization. The honor is named after the former Atlanta traffic engineer and longtime association member who died at age 96 last year. It is given to an active member who has been with the organization for at least five years. Gill also is the co-leader of the association’s Bucks on the Street public art project.
“I’m so honored,” she said. “Thank you so much for this lovely award. I can’t tell you how wonderful it is for me because of Karl’s loving service to the BBA and the city of Atlanta. If I was half the person he was, that would be great.”
Then Buckhead Coalition President Sam Massell gave out certificates of commendation to Gill and Donna Kain, the other Bucks on the Street co-leader, for their efforts in the project.
“It’s amazing, just unexpected and amazing to get that from Sam. Truly humbling,” Kain said after the luncheon.
Gill said she was “very surprised” to win the award from the coalition.
“We did not do [Bucks on the Street] for the recognition, but it’s nice to be recognized, especially by that group of people,” she said.