At Friday mornings swearing-in ceremony for graduating Macon police recruits, Rory Qualls went further than just taking an oath to serve and protect.
He opted to pledge to have and to hold, love and cherish.
Qualls got permission from his training sergeant to propose to his girlfriend while all the recruits were gathered together at the Chief Ben T. Watkins Training Academy on Jackson Street.
I just felt it may have been time, said Qualls, 22, who has been dating Miranda Bauers for about five years. I now have the career.
First, Qualls grandmother, Patricia Finn, who traveled from Point Pleasant, N.J., pinned the badge on his uniform.
He called Bauers over and got everyones attention.
I explained shes been a big part of me getting to this point, said Qualls, who dropped to his knee and pulled out a princess-cut solitaire diamond.
Bauers was so excited, she said shes not really sure what happened after that.
I was shocked, taken by surprise, said Bauers, who is completing her nursing degree at Columbus State University in May.
Jami Gaudet, the departments public information officer, said she got tears in her eyes when she realized what was happening.
I started bawling, I mean really crying, Gaudet said. It was so sweet.
The couple met the summer before his senior year at Harris County High School, just north of Columbus.
He moved to Macon for training in September and starts his job as a Precinct 1 officer in field training Tuesday.
Hell have a veteran officer with him the first few months on the job, but has recruited Bauers to be his partner for life.
Training Sgt. Darrin Marcus said it was one of the most unusual requests hes ever gotten while planning the ceremony.
He said he appreciated her standing by him through all the things we go through in training, Marcus said.
Qualls said he wanted to include the nine other new officers, who are just like family to him now.
Weve spent three to six months together and have gotten very close, Qualls said. It was a meaningful moment for me. I felt they should be part of it.
To contact writer Liz Fabian, call 744-4303.