Two Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies have been honored for exemplary efforts that led to arrests in major cases last year.
Sheriff’s Cpl. Tyler Sexton and Deputy William McConnell each received the Deputy of the Year award for 2011 during a ceremony Thursday night.
Both men were credited with gathering valuable information that was later used to identify and find suspects in unrelated burglaries on opposite ends of the county.
Sexton, who works out of the south precinct, was honored for his work on a September jewelry store heist.
In the north precinct, McConnell was hailed for helping end a summer crime spree.
In Sexton’s case, his efforts helped lead to the arrest of some 15 suspects in connection with a $2.5 million heist at Milano Fine Jewelry on Buford Highway.
While responding to a report of suspicious activity behind a restaurant near the store, Sexton made contact with two men. At the time, he did not have probable cause to arrest either of them.
He did, however, document the information he had gathered during their visit.
When the burglary was reported the next day, Sexton recalled their chat and shared what he had learned, which resulted in the arrests.
“What I did was just a small thread,” Sexton said during the ceremony Thursday. “[Criminal Investigations Division] and warrants, they did a great job getting those guys in custody. They did all the legwork. It was a team effort.”
Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Freeman, commander of the south precinct, said had it not been for Sexton, investigators could still be trying to make arrests in the case.
He noted that authorities think the suspects were part of a burglary ring that had committed similar crimes elsewhere in Georgia, as well as Alabama, Florida, North and South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
McConnell’s work led to the arrest of suspects in a rash of entering autos and burglaries in the Lake Forest subdivision.
While canvassing the area, he encountered three young men walking in the street. They claimed they were painting a fence nearby, yet had no paint on them.
McConnell got their personal information and authorities later arrested two of the young men in connection with the thefts.
“It’s quite an honor to be one of those recognized among so many fine deputies,” McConnell said. “Without us as a collective unit and teamwork, I don’t think the agency would be as good as we are right now.
“We really work well as a team together.”
Capt. Mark Flowers, north precinct commander, said McConnell trusted his instincts. He commended the deputy for being “very attentive to the last detail.”
He said the arrests in the Lake Forest case “immediately cleared up a whole spree of crime.”
McConnell was also credited with following up on a tip from a confidential source in August that led to the arrest of burglary suspects in the area.