Local public servants received top honors for bravery and much-deserved praise at the 2021 Valor Awards on Wednesday, Feb. 17, held at the Infinite Energy Forum. The event, hosted by Gwinnett Chamber and presented by Mobile Communications America and Motorola Solutions, honored the men and women who have performed heroic and extraordinary acts to protect and serve the citizens of Gwinnett.
Top honors included:
• Corporals Richard J. Lacey, Joshua V. Daunhauer, Caleb G. Jefferson, William B. Webb, David S. Duren and K9 Blue, with the Gwinnett County Police Department, were awarded the highest honor, the Gold Medal of Valor. These officers, having endured a hot and grueling search through a swamp, were forced to defend their lives and then to employ life-saving efforts on the suspect and on their fellow officer. These officers displayed calm professionalism and K9 Blue made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting his team and serving the citizens of Gwinnett County.
• Gwinnett County Fire and Emergency Services’ Firefighter/EMT John Niekro received the Silver Medal of Valor for his quick thinking and selfless actions to save the three lives being carried by rip currents while on vacation.
• Police Officer Senior Kevin Ehrenborg, with the Gwinnett County Police Department, was awarded the Bronze Medal of Valor for his heroic actions, under extreme duress, saving a woman’s life and preventing the suspect from inflicting additional harm to her.
• School Resource Officer Zakia Williams, with Gwinnett County Schools Police, received the Lifesaving Award for her response and heroic intervention to save a baby that was not breathing in a car next to hers.
• Public Safety Communications Person of the Year was presented to Gwinnett County Police Department’s Communications Officer Shaniqua Brito for her professionalism and calm demeanor under trying circumstances dealing with an officer down call on Jan. 25, 2020.
• The Gwinnett County Police Communications Section was awarded the Public Safety Unit of the Year award for providing the highest level of service to the citizens of Gwinnett County, and during a pandemic. From January to November 2020, the center handled more than 640,000 calls for service, dispatched more than 700,000 police-related calls and more than 95,000 Fire and EMS calls.
• Gwinnett County Police Department’s Master Police Officer Darryl Nelson was awarded the Public Safety Person of the Year award for exceeding duty requirements and remaining vigilant in his pursuit of sex traffickers as part of the Criminal Investigation Division’s Special Investigations Section.
• This year’s Leadership honoree, former Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlotte Nash, was recognized for her many year of public safety service to Gwinnett County and especially being a champion of Gwinnett’s first responders. The inaugural Youth Leadership Award went to Suwanee Police Department Explorer Lieutenant Aracely Hernandez, a senior at Lanier High School, for exuding qualities that will surely make her a future leader.
• Gwinnett County Police Department’s Communications Officer Amy Hardin received the Medal of Merit Award for creating the Communications Section’s Community Education Program—designing presentations and materials that provide detailed information to audiences of all ages, about how the Gwinnett 911 Center works.
For more information on the Valor Awards, visit www.gwinnettchamber.org/valor-awards.