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Wages named Public Safety Professional of the Year

Morrow police Detective Paul Wages receives congratulations from fellow law enforcement professionals during the 41st Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day hosted by the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352 Wednesday. Wages was announced as the 2013 Public Safety Professional of the Year. (Staff Photos: Johnny Jackson)

Morrow police Detective Paul Wages receives congratulations from fellow law enforcement professionals during the 41st Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day hosted by the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352 Wednesday. Wages was announced as the 2013 Public Safety Professional of the Year. (Staff Photos: Johnny Jackson)

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Deputy Grand Knight Gregory Edwards, of the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352, bestows the 2013 Public Safety Professional of the Year Award upon Morrow police Detective Paul Wages, right, during the group’s 41st Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day on Wednesday.

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Clayton County police Officer Christopher Russo was among the honorees at the 41st Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day luncheon in Jonesboro.

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Clayton County police Maj. Johnny Robinson, left, and Officer Melvin Snell took part in a public safety appreciation luncheon hosted by the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352 in Jonesboro.

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Officials representing each public safety department in Clayton County were invited to the 41st Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day luncheon Wednesday held at the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352 in Jonesboro.

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A portrait of Mary, mother of Jesus, hangs above the entrance of the commons area in the Jones C. Gavel Jr. Hall of the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352 Wednesday as public safety officials gathered for a luncheon recognizing them for their service.

JONESBORO — The officers and firefighters were described as the community’s unheralded heroes, and Morrow police Detective Paul Wages was described as the model professional among them.

Wages was named the 2013 Public Safety Professional of the Year during the 41st Annual Public Safety Appreciation Day luncheon Wednesday.

“I’m honored to even be considered for this,” said Wages, who was surprised by a visit from his wife, Kim, at the event hosted by the Knights of Columbus Tara Council No. 6352 in Jonesboro.

The group’s Deputy Grand Knight Gregory Edwards presented the award and thanked the group of Public Safety Professional of the Year nominees and other public safety officials attending the luncheon.

“You’re very quiet professionals,” said Edwards. “If everything is going well, no one really knows you’re around.”

Public safety professionals, however, live each day in the unknown. So says Clayton County police Maj. Johnny Robinson.

“When you get up and get dressed in the morning, you know you may have to save someone,” he said. “But it’s a good feeling.”

Robinson, who works in the department’s criminal investigation division, reflected on life-saving situations over the course of his 26-year career with the Clayton County Police Department that have inspired him to continue in the profession.

He remembered he found a woman locked inside a car trunk once — an apparent domestic dispute he said could have gotten worse had he not been in the right place at the right time and heard the woman struggling to get out.

“I remember that particular day,” said Robinson. “I felt like I actually saved somebody because ‘what would have happened to her if I had not been there?’”

Robinson said he has attended the appreciation luncheons before to support his comrades and was named Officer of the Year himself several years ago.

“We’re here to help anybody that needs help,” he said. “We want our residents of Clayton County to feel safe.”

This year’s honored public safety professionals were nominated by their supervisors to be recognized at the luncheon and to vie for its Public Safety Professional of the Year Award.

The honorees include Wages; Clayton County Sheriff’s Lt. Kelly Clare; Clayton County police Officer Melvin Snell and Officer Christopher Russo; Forest Park police Sgt. Christopher Simmons; Jonesboro police Sgt. J.P. Smallwood; Lake City police Officer Jacob Anthony; Clayton County Fire and Emergency Services Lt. Rob Lunsford, Sgt. Wesley Johnston and firefighter/EMT Jeremy Menzel; and Morrow Fire Capt. Jon Williams and firefighter/paramedics Gary Mosely, Brian Murtagh, James Kay and Davis Shafer.