MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Scores of law enforcement officials converged at the RSA Activity Center in downtown Montgomery, but they weren't investigating a crime. Rather, 18 individuals were recognized, along with the Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force.
There were many stories of courage and heroism tossed around inside the RSA Activity Center. The officers were recognized for their work in 2017.
Corporal Rudloph Byrts of the Montgomery County Sheriff's Department has a story to tell and it was told in front of a full house at the annual Central Alabama Crimestoppers Awards Luncheon.
One day last year, Byrts served legal papers to a resident in the Smiley Court community when he heard gunshots one street over.
"So, I ran to my vehicle and got on my radio," Byrts said.
Instead of running away, Byrts confronted it with the help of nearby residents who pointed him in the right direction.
"A little fear came inside of me and I was going towards the shots still ringing out and multiple guns," he recalled.
What Byrts didn't know at the time was that three people had been shot. Byrts subdued the gunmen, arresting two suspects at the same time until Montgomery police arrived. The victims recovered.
"We recovered both weapons and at the scene a rifle and a fully automatic pistol," he said.
Not just another day on the job for Corporal Byrts but truly answering the call in the face of danger.
"I don't think I did anything any different than anybody else," the veteran lawman said humbly.
And so it begins all over again for deputy Byrts on the next shift, serving legal papers and chasing bad folks.
The winners took home glass-carved awards while others were awarded nice plaques. Macon County sheriff investigator Dion Robinson was a three-time winner for his stupendous investigative work against crime. The Central Alabama Crimestoppers program also recognized Audrey McCord for her work in 'intelligence' with the Elmore County Sheriff's Department.
McCord has an unusual story. She studied veterinarian medicine for two years at Auburn University but had to drop due to personal reasons. McCord says she has no regrets and feels she's found her calling in law enforcement.
Millbrook police chief P.K. Johnson spoke on behalf of Det. Cpl. Jason Brosius. Brosius' bio says he "apprehended a dangerous criminal who endangered the public, rammed a patrol car, fired at officers and evaded to attempt more thefts the following day." Chief Johnson called his detective "outstanding," and what Brosius did just illustrates the danger law enforcement face everyday.
Fred White is a member of the one of the smallest drug task forces in Alabama. The Tallapoosa County Narcotics Task Force investigated a record 600 plus drug cases last year and arrested more than 400 suspects allegedly connected to those cases.
Other winners included:
- Special Agent Senior Spencer Traywick of ALEA
- TFO Jeffrey Ioimo of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Explosive Task Force
- TFO Antonio Goins of Alcohol Tobacco Firearms Explosives Task Force
- Chief Deputy Carlton E. Carmichael of the Crenshaw County Sheriff's Department
- Lt. Jeremy Peagler of the Greenville Police Department
- Lt. J. Disney of the Greenville Police Department
- Georgiana and Greenville Police Departments
- Investigator Steven Geon with the Autauga County Sheriff's Department
- Investigator John P. Wilson of the Montgomery County District Attorney's Office
- Sgt. E.S. Ware of the Montgomery Police Department
- Lt. Ray Wagner of the Prattville Police Department
- Sgt. John Kemp of the Prattville Police Department
- Officer Jared Payton of the Wetumpka Police Department
The Central Alabama Crimestoppers started in 1997 and since awarded nearly $138,000 in reward money.
But we can't complete this story without talking about Tony Garrett.
"It feels good when another Crimestoppers program," he said.
Garrett is the face of the Central Alabama Crimestoppers program and it was Garrett who started a program one year ago that awards $500 to anyone.. students included.. who finds a gun on school grounds. Often, that has led to arrests.
"As long as that gun is found with a student we'll pay out to whoever. The way the program works is when a student sees another student with a gun, they contact the administrator," he said.
Last year, Garrett's program recovered nine guns out of area schools. There is no official name per se of the program but we can tell you it's gone statewide.
"Since then ATF has expanded to other agencies. A lot of programs we implemented statewide and cities as far as California have asked about the programs we're doing," Garrett said.
Although $500 is a good deal of money for a student turning in someone with a gun, Garrett says the real pay off is this: many of those tips have prevented school shootings.
Garrett says not all the tips led to arrests last year because some guns were found in a trash can or bathroom.