Representatives were present from Fort Oglethorpe Police Department, Rossville Police Department, Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force, Chickamauga Police Department, Lookout Mountain Police Department, Georgia Bureau of Investigation, FBI, Georgia State Patrol, Ringgold Police Department, Georgia probation office, Georgia parole board, along with members of Walker, Catoosa and Dade County Sheriff’s Offices, and the Northwest Georgia Child Safety Task Force (also called the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.)
In recent years the award has been given to law enforcement groups. Last year it went to those who worked on the Sam Parker case. In 2009 it went to the Lookout Mountain Drug Task Force.
Don Martin of the Rossville Exchange Club spoke first, offering the gratitude of the club and community for the dedicated service that each law enforcement person gives in the line of duty.
Retired Hamilton County, Tenn., sheriff John Cupp gave the keynote speech to the group of about 100 people, most of whom were law enforcement personnel.
Cupp spoke about the important role that task forces took on during his time as sheriff and the coordination of multiple agencies in a collaborative effort to deal with serious crimes.
“Any time you have a successful task force it is not going to be the work of one person or agency. It is going to be a combination of these people working together,” Cupp said.
Supervisory senior resident agent Gary Will from the Dalton FBI office accepted the award on behalf of the Northwest Georgia Child Safety Task Force (or Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force).
Officers from Rossville Police Department, Dalton Police Department, Catoosa County Sheriff’s Office, Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office, and the U.S. Department of Justice make up the task force, many of which work in an undercover capacity.
The six members of the task force were in attendance at the luncheon; however, to protect their identities the recognition was given without the congratulatory group photo with plaques in hand.
Will gave a brief history of the task force, while highlighting some of the most notable arrests, recounting a LaFayette tennis coach, Bart Huskey, who allegedly videotaped sex acts with a 9-year-old girl.
A Chattanooga high school teacher, a girls’ softball coach, an Air Force captain from Illinois, and a doctor from California were all apprehended by the task force due to their attempt to contact or meet with minors for sex, he said.
Instead those individuals chatted with a task force member that documented the encounters, and lead to arrests and prosecution in those cases.
“This task force makes a difference because they are dealing with, in my humble opinion, the lowest of the low in the community,” Will said. “They are dealing with individuals who are attacking and going after our children.”
The predatory activity became alarming in 2005, as officials dealt with 12 instances of online sexual predators, two of which resulted in abduction where the children were taken to Ohio. Those two children were rescued due to the investigation in collaboration with Ohio law enforcement.
On another instance the predator showed up at the school with a butcher knife, duct tape, and a garbage bag, according to Will.
The successful apprehensions led to the development of the creation of the task force, focused on capturing online predators or deviants who would cause harm to children.
Will urges parent to better monitor their children’s online activity.
Will also credited the agencies present at the luncheon, as they give assistance frequently to the task force in their mission.
Cupp also spoke about the virtues and responsibilities of carrying a badge. He also warned of the pitfalls that law enforcement personnel may succumb to, including alcoholism, high divorce rate, and even suicide.
“The Three Keys to Success” is a motivational speech Cupp has given around the country focused on the ABCs of life.
“A successful retirement does not consist of alcohol, beer and the couch,” Cupp said.
Cupp spoke most specifically about the role of those keys in retirement, as many in the crowd are nearing or preparing for retirement.
Attitude, balance and change are his keys to being assertive in retirement, he said.