Chickamauga Police Detective Ira Taylor and Walker County Sheriff's Deputy Bruce Coker are the Chickamauga Lions Club's Gerald Hegwood Officers of the Year.
The awards were presented to them based on their outstanding service, loyalty and devotion to the community.
"I'm just honored that they recognized me," Taylor said. "I've been in law enforcement since 1984. I love working at Chickamauga Police Department. This is where I started in law enforcement, and now I'm back."
He has also worked for the Walker County Sheriff's Office and the Fort Oglethorpe Police Department.
As a detective for Chickamauga, Taylor follows up on cases started by patrolmen, specifically felony crimes, though he patrols when someone is out for vacation or sick leave. He returned to his home department in 2008.
"I was tasked with being Chickamauga's first full-time detective, working misdemeanor and felony criminal investigations as well as City Hall management with enforcement of building and zoning ordinances as well as stormwater ordinances," he said. "Through my previous experience, I was also tasked as the department evidence custodian once again."
After 30 years on the job, the Gordon Lee High School alum said he loves his job and the opportunities he has been given through it. Taylor thinks he is meant to be a police officer and said he plans to stay at Chickamauga Police Department until he retires.
"It is an honor to nominate Deputy Bruce Coker for the 2016 Chickamauga Lions Clun Officer of the Year Award," said Walker County Sheriff Steve Wilson. "Deputy Coker is an 18-year law enforcement veteran. He has worked in the Road Patrol Division, Community Affairs Division and as the School Resource Officer at Ridgeland High School. For the past seven Christmas seasons, Deputy Coker has served as the Sheriff's Office liaison to the Al Millard Stocking Full of Love, a charity that provides toys and gifts to needy Walker County children."
As such, Coker spends his holiday season each year working hard to raise funds, then buying and sorting toys and organizing the toy store.
"At other times of the year, Deputy Coker is busy organizing a benefit gospel singing, scheduling a marksman shoot tournament and planning the annual Labor Day weekend sock hop and antique car show, all this to raise money for Walker County's needy children," Wilson continued. "The last seven years, the Stocking Full of Love program has served approximately 10,800 children and 4,250 families. With Deputy Coker's hard work, the program has raised over $200,000."
Most days, Coker works as the SRO at Ridgeland High School and teaches CHAMPS at Rossville Elementary School and Stone Creek Elementary School.
"It's an honor to get this," said Coker, who is a member of the Rossville Lions Club. "I'm humbled by it for sure. I have a hunger and a thirst to serve. Law enforcement gives me that opportunity and the Lions Club and the Stocking Full of Love."