The Dunwoody Police Department has announced its annual achievement awards for 2018 to recognize officers and civilians staff members for their service.

Among those honored were five officers who received Medals of Meritorious Service for their roles in saving the lives of local victims. Chief Billy Grogan also beat out the rest of the department to take home the Marksman of the Year award.

Those receiving Medals of Meritorious Service for 2018 are:

Officer Roger Halstead

Officer Halstead.

Halstead answered a call at the Perimeter Mall parking lot where a child was unconscious and not breathing. He immediately attached an automated external defibrillator (AED) to the girl, which advised “No Shock,” so he began administering CPR. While conducting chest compressions, Halstead rolled the child onto her side to clear her airway of mucus, blood and vomit. DeKalb Fire Rescue and American Medical Response ambulance emergency responders arrived on the scene and took over life-support care and transported the child to a hospital. The girl underwent brain surgery and survived.

Officer Ethan Taffar, Officer Olajide Yakubu, Sgt. Michael Cheek

Officer Taffar.
Officer Yakubu.
Sgt. Cheek.

Taffer, Yakubu and Cheek were dispatched to a medical call at a Dunwoody residence in December where they found a man on the ground, unconscious and not breathing. One officer began CPR and chest compressions while another officer applied an AED. The AED advised “No Shock”,” so Taffer and Yakubu began taking turns with chest compressions. The victim’s friend told the officers the victim had just “shot up heroin,” according to police. Cheek then injected him with Narcan, an opioid antidote. DeKalb Fire and EMS arrived on the scene and took over care of the patient. Officers continued to assist medical personnel with CPR. The patient was revived and taken to Emory Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Sandy Springs.

 Officer Juan Lopez

Officer Lopez.

Lopez responded to a Dunwoody residence where there was an unresponsive child and began CPR on the child. The child regained consciousness and Lopez continued sternum rubs to keep the child awake until DeKalb Fire Rescue arrived to take over medical care. The child’s parents told Lopez their child was not breathing, was pale and beginning to turn purple when he arrived, and they called him a “hero,” according to police.

Others receiving honors were:

Officer of the Year: Officer Bryan Castellanos

Officer Castallenos.

In July, Castellanos stopped a group of suspected shoplifters in a car in the parking lot at Target in the Perimeter Place shopping center. The suspect driving rammed the vehicle into Castellanos’ police car and raced from the scene. Castellanos followed in pursuit into neighboring jurisdictions, before the suspects were finally stopped without anyone being injured. The suspects were arrested and later discovered to be part of a multi-state shoplifting ring, according to police.

Employee of the Year: Crime Scene Technician Sybil Warner 


Warner has been helping solve criminal cases at DPD for nearly 10 years, including processing crime scenes for detectives and officers. Warner also conducts Automated Fingerprint Identification System (AFIS) searches on latent prints recovered from vehicles and other property that have led to identifying suspects. She regularly volunteers for department initiatives events such as the Citizens’ Police Academy; The Griffin Project, where department employees spend time with special needs students in classrooms; Truck or Treat, the Halloween night of the city’s Food Truck Thursdays at Brook Run Park; and Cops on Donut Shops to raise money for the Special Olympics.

Volunteer of the Year: Bailiff and Citizen on Patrol Jim Sturgis


Sturgis is a Dunwoody resident and former member of the Dunwoody Citizen’s Police Task Force. He has also served as a volunteer Bailiff since the Dunwoody Municipal Court started a decade and is one of the inaugural members of the Dunwoody Police Department’s Citizens on Patrol team. In 2018, Sturgis volunteered 471 hours to the city including with The Griffin Project’s school visits and distributing hundreds of child ID kits to parents at city events.

Marksman of the Year: Chief Billy Grogan

Chief Grogan.

Chief Grogan had the highest firearms qualification score during the department’s Spring firearms training.

Top Cop Competition Winner: Sgt. Patrick Krieg

Sgt. Krieg.

Top Cop is a multi-discipline competition which includes physical fitness, mental aptitude and shooting drills. Krieg had the fastest overall time during this competition in 2018.

Employee of the First Quarter: Police Service Representative Diane Sanford


Sanford processed and entered over 60 stolen items into the Georgia Crime Information Center from a single case without error and received several commendations for her work. Sanford also assists as an associate Police Explorer Advisor and mentor with Police Explorer Post #702.

Officer of the First Quarter: Officer Guinevere Wiencek

Officer Wiencek.

Wiencek received several commendations for her work on traffic safety in Dunwoody. She is an on-call crash investigator and committee member on the Risk Analysis Board and regularly participates in The Griffin Project where she helps children with special needs and autism.

Officer of the Second Quarter: Det. Robert Ehlbeck

Det. Ehlbeck.

Ehlbeck investigated several elder abuse and exploitation cases during the second quarter of 2018 and made arrests in seven of those cases. Ehlbeck was also commended by the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, Elder Exploitation Division, for his efforts.

Employee of the Third Quarter: Police Service Representative Cynthia Gary

Gary was commended during the third quarter of 2018 for completing the task of Georgia Crime Information Center’s (GCIC) Record Restriction audit and did so without error.

Employee of the Fourth Quarter: Property and Evidence Technician Katharine “KC” Tate


Tate prepared and arranged staff training to transition from the department’s current use of a mobile field reporting system for crime data collection to the National Incident-Based Reporting System (NIBRS). Tate also coordinated the department’s participation in the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Yellow Dot program. The program includes yellow dot packets provided to residents that can be used by first responders to learn the medical history of that person. In December first responders found a yellow dot packet at a Dunwoody residence and used the information inside it to save the resident’s life. Tate also assisted in the department’s toy drive for Christmas.

Officer of the Fourth Quarter — Juan Lopez

Lopez spearheaded an initiative along the Peachtree Industrial corridor to encourage property owners to clean up trash. Lopez also initiated several speed-enforcement details on I-285 resulting in numerous citations and many arrests for reckless driving, according to police. He was also commended for his work as a training officer.

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Dyana Bagby

Dyana Bagby is a staff writer for Reporter Newspapers and Atlanta Intown.