On December 6, 2018, the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) hosted the 21st Annual Governor’s Public Safety Awards ceremony. Twelve members of Georgia’s public safety community received acts of heroism awards and two were awarded for outstanding contributions to their profession. Director Chris Wigginton conducted the awards ceremony before an audience of approximately 200 guests. Among the fourteen recipients, was the Master of Ceremonies and our very own GPSTC Executive Director, Chris G. Wigginton. Director Wigginton was awarded the Act of Heroism Award for an incident that took place in Rabun County, while he was serving as a Georgia State Trooper. Governor Nathan Deal was the keynote speaker and the award presenter of the honorees’ medallions. The Governor expressed his sincere appreciation to all of those in public safety and for those who go above and beyond the call of duty. Governor Deal stated, “Georgia’s public safety professionals protect us from fire, crime and chaos. They are leaders in our communities during times of crisis.”
The Act of Heroism Award recognizes those who perform an exceptional deed that results in saving lives and/or protecting property. While serving with the Georgia State Patrol (GSP) and as a SWAT Team member, Trooper First Class (TFC) Chris Wigginton and his fellow team member TFC Chuck Evans, were engaged in an active search for an armed suspect that had fled into a wooded area in Rabun County. The suspect had been involved in several shootings that night and had clearly demonstrated no regard for law enforcement officers. He had shot and wounded a Georgia State Trooper and had other officers, from local law enforcement, pinned down at the time Wigginton made contact with him and issued verbal commands. Disregarding the commands Wigginton conveyed, the gunman proceeded to fire his weapon in the direction of Wigginton and Evans. Without regard for their own safety, Wigginton and Evans returned fire, fatally wounding the suspect. The two troopers acted selflessly that night and ultimately prevented the suspect from harming anyone else. During the momentous awards ceremony, Governor Deal commended Director Chris Wigginton and Trooper Chuck Evans for their bravery and selfless actions that night. The Governor said, “It is a privilege for me to pay tribute to these public safety professionals. Each of them is individually reflective of Georgia’s most admirable virtues.”
Governor Deal also expounded on the many accomplishments that Wigginton has achieved since having been appointed as the Director of the GPSTC. Honorable Deal explicitly addressed Director Wigginton stating, “To Chris Wigginton, let me just say, Chris, my selection of you, as the Director of this facility, was probably one of the better decisions that I’ve made during my eight years. You have proven to be everything I knew you could be. You have done an excellent job… I have seen an evolution take place here. An evolution in terms of the way this place looks, the number of people who are being served by these facilities and that statistic continues to grow exponentially every year, which is a good thing. To train people from all over our state and literally all over the world, it brings recognition to the State of Georgia as a place that recognizes the importance of the rule of law and the public safety people who make that happen.” Wigginton remains dedicated to progressing the GPSTC into the Nation’s premiere training facility.