TYLER, Texas — On Tuesday, the Smith County Sheriff’s Office held their annual awards banquet where Sheriff Larry Smith recognizes his deputies for their dedication and hard work during 2022.
From saving lives, solving cases and being there for a fallen colleague, multiple awards were given, but the department specifically honored deputies with the Shift Commendation Award for their assistance in responding to the incident that killed the late Deputy Lorenzo Bustos.
"I was one of many deputies on the shift with deputy Lorenzo Bustos the night that he was killed on duty," said Alicia Fitzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick is going on two years as a deputy at the sheriff’s office. After receiving the award, she reflected on the tragic night her colleague was killed.
"It was a very difficult night for us and for his family, but I was fortunate enough to be able to be there at the hospital and help," Fitzpatrick said. "Making sure that he had transportation honors throughout the different things that we had to do during that day. Until he could be laid to rest."
Many attendees remembered their fallen brother. Sheriff Smith said they all work for a professional organization that demands and requires a lot. Smith said he doesn’t think he brags about his team accomplishments enough -- especially since he said his office is over 100% clearance rate for homicides.
"You ask how are we over 100%?" Smith said. "We've cleared those cases. There were cold cases when I came in office and we've cleared every homicide case since I've been in office."
If it’s not a homicide case then it’s being a first responder and saving lives just like deputy Tanner Grantham who was rewarded the Life Saving Award.
"It was just for a drive by shooting," Grantham said. "A gentleman got shot in the leg and he needed a tourniquet. Myself and my partner at the time assisted in applying the tourniquet and I couldn't have done it without him."
Deputies who show what it means to be a first responder in Smith County, and a member of their own community when times get rough. Fitzpatrick said she won't forget the night deputy Bustos died.
"We promised him, we promised his wife, his kids that we would be here for them and that we would be here for all the moments that he should still be here for," Fitzpatrick said. "So it means a lot to be able to carry that on."
As the night went on many deputies were rewarded for all of their outstanding work. Smith told said he’s proud of his team and that at the end of the banquet they had a special tribute for the late deputy Bustos.