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Sheriff’s office praises top deputy from south
Late canine also honored
Deputy Brian Chatham also received a plaque, above, in memory of his partnership with K-9 deputy Rudy. - photo by Julie Arrington
Two Forsyth County Sheriff’s deputies were honored in a special ceremony Wednesday.

Sheriff’s Capt. Ron Freeman presented Ben Smith with the south precinct’s Deputy of the Year Award for 2009.

Smith, who was promoted about two weeks ago to deputy first class, said receiving the award was “a great honor.”

“Thanks to everyone I worked with last year,” he said. “I couldn’t have done it without them.”

Freeman, commander of the south precinct, commended Smith for his work ethic and noted that the deputy makes it known he wants to be out in the county doing his job.

He described Smith as “an up and coming star” with an ability to learn quickly and apply what he has learned.

“I think that sets people apart ... because their work ethic, their skill, their ability to retain what they’ve learned makes them tremendously valuable, makes them valuable to our community and makes them valuable to keeping our community safe,” Freeman said.

Sheriff’s Lt. Col. Gene Moss also congratulated Smith and all of the deputies of the month from 2009.

“It’s the little things that count and some of the little things that count the most are us being able to recognize the men and women that do this work,” Moss said.

“When I was a police officer in DeKalb County years ago, a slap on the back meant a lot ... I’ve got to commend our staff supervisors that take this a step further and write these guys up for the good job they do.”

Also Wednesday, Deputy Brian Chatham received a plaque in memory of his partnership with K-9 deputy Rudy.

The German shepherd was put to sleep on April 4 because of health problems.

Sheriff’s Sgt. Josh Cox, who presented Chatham with the plaque, explained the deputies in the unit live with and form close relationships with their canine partners.

The month before his death, Rudy began behaving aggressively and veterinarians determined the dog was a danger to Chatham, his family and others.

Cox said Rudy’s illness was difficult for Chatham.

“Being a former handler myself — I’m trying not to get choked up — but being a former handler myself, it’s very tough,” Cox said. “He had a tough time going through that.

“The biggest thing I saw during that time period was Brian’s concern for the team. He didn’t want to let the team down. Whether he had a dog or not, he was concerned about us.”

A plaque in Rudy’s memory will also hang in the south precinct lobby.