Officer Perry Baxter likes his role as a behind-the-scenes guy. Described by his peers on the Sandy Springs Police Department as “the ultimate instructor,” Baxter trains members of the force to use firearms safely and effectively. He instructs them on the finer points of lifesaving emergency medical procedures and serves as an expert Taser instructor, among a multitude of other duties.
So for someone who says he gains satisfaction from raising the skills and profiles of fellow officers, it’s a little unusual for Baxter to be cast in the spotlight outside of his usual haunts at the police department.
Recently, however, Baxter and two public safety colleagues were honored by the Rotary Club of Sandy Springs at a luncheon as tops in their fields.
Baxter, a training officer and assistant commander of the crisis negotiation team, was recognized as one of the city’s top public safety officers along with Sandra DuPree, a fire rescue technician with Sandy Springs Fire Rescue, and James Laudermilk, crew chief for Sandy Springs Fire Rescue.
Even though Baxter was front and center at the Rotary event and flanked by family, peers and supporters, he still attempted to deflect the attention away from himself.
“I’m not doing this for the attention,” he said. “I’m here to make everyone else look good.”
Baxter said that one of his biggest accomplishments during the past year was helping to send a majority of the roughly 130 officers of the Sandy Springs police force to a state academy to learn how to drive safely during inherently dangerous police pursuits.
Sending that volume of officers from one department to the specialized training program was innovative, Baxter said.
“That’s just never happened before,” he said. “It makes them safer drivers, and they’ll also know their limits.”
David Evans, a former president of the local Rotary Club in attendance for the ceremony, said that the service organization has been honoring peace officers and firefighters for decades.
The awards are a recognition of people who are serving their communities at a high level, and, hopefully, serve as an example to other people in service professions.
“They serve our community, and we are recognizing them for what they do for Sandy Springs,” Evans said. “We want to encourage them and give them a sense of pride and a sense the community cares about them.”