Crimestoppers honors Monroe deputies, draws record donations

As midstate crime fighters gathered to receive a record donation for Macon Regional Crimestoppers, they remembered one who paid the ultimate price.

Nearly 500 law enforcement officers and community leaders held a moment of silence for slain Monroe County Deputy Michael Norris and gave a standing ovation to his wounded partner.

Deputy Jeff Wilson wiped away a tear as the applause continued for 35 seconds.

Monroe Sheriff John Cary Bittick lauded Wilson for returning fire, even though he was seriously wounded.

Wilson shot the suspect, Christopher Keith Calmer, and secured the scene so that first responders could administer aid to Norris.

Although the young deputy was mortally wounded, Wilson’s actions helped fulfill Norris’ wish to be an organ donor.

Bittick also thanked his colleagues who helped his department cope with the loss of its first deputy in the line of duty.

“When I got to the hospital, there were 12 sheriffs from counties across the state standing there,” Bittick said. “You just don’t realize how important that is until something like that happens to you.”

Bittick said he was offered help from virtually every agency represented in Crimestoppers’ eight-county region.

“When you get into law enforcement, I think you realize that you’re truly joining a special family,” he said.

Crimestoppers board chairman Warren Selby recognizes the importance of building interagency relationships and partnerships to solicit anonymous tips on serious crimes.

“The encouraging part is every year it grows,” he said.

Crimestoppers, which melds the efforts of law enforcement, the community and the media, now has an expanded sponsor base.

This year’s event, sponsored Macon’s Rotary clubs, raised $102,200, the most in the local chapter’s history.

In the past 14 years, thousands of people have picked up the phone to call Crimestoppers and help take 4,400 suspected criminals off the streets of Middle Georgia.

At the 13th annual luncheon, the partnership announced 292 arrests through October of this year and close to $47,000 in rewards paid.

In the first 10 months of 2014, 422 cases were cleared and 607 warrants served.

Crimestoppers operates in Bibb, Jones, Peach, Houston, Twiggs, Baldwin, Crawford and Monroe counties.