Governor honors midstate law enforcement officers

The heroic efforts of three Middle Georgia law enforcement officers caught the attention of Gov. Nathan Deal.

Cpl. Josh Swain and Ranger 1st Class Ronnie Beard, both of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, and Georgia Parole Officer and Fugitive Task Force investigator Trent Swicord received Public Safety Awards from the governor Wednesday at the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth.

Two nights before Christmas last year, Swain and Beard risked their lives in rising floodwaters to rescue four stranded boaters on the Ocmulgee River.

The party’s boat capsized, washing away half their life jackets and leaving the boaters stranded on a small patch of dry land that was shrinking in the rising water.

Other rescuers located the stranded party, but conditions were too treacherous to reach them.

“Although the hazards of a rescue attempt were obvious, the two officers unselfishly placed their personal safety at risk in order to reach the four boaters,” a news release stated.

Swain and Beard brought all four boaters to safety before the river swallowed the small island.

“I am very proud of these rangers and their willingness to selflessly risk personal safety to ensure the safety of these boaters who likely would not have survived,” Col. Eddie Henderson, director of DNR Law Enforcement, said in the release.

The Board of Natural Resources also honored Swain and Beard with resolutions recognizing their training, expertise and bravery in saving the boaters from imminent danger and hypothermia.

Swain is a 10-year DNR veteran who is assigned to Taylor and Peach counties. Beard covers Bleckley and Pulaski counties.

Swicord was recognized for stopping fleeing suspects who hit him and another officer with their vehicle as they tried to escape in May 2013.

The officers were working in Tift County with the U.S. Marshals Southeast Regional Fugitive Task Force to capture someone wanted for armed robbery and aggravated assault.

Swicord was thrown onto the hood of the car but fired his gun into the windshield.

He wounded the driver and stopped the vehicle, according to the news release. Both officers fully recovered.

Swicord’s 23-year law enforcement career includes stints with the Georgia College & State University police force and Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office.

The Governor’s Public Safety Awards Program recognizes those going above and beyond the call of duty to protect lives and property in Georgia.