SMYRNA, Ga. - Metro Atlanta police officers were recognized on Friday night for going above and beyond the call of duty through kindness. The awards came from a local foundation, Gotcha Covered Blankets. The foundation was started a little more than 2 years ago after the death of Smyrna Police Officer Mitchell Georgiana.
"He was just an incredible young man," said Donna Georgiana, Mitchell's mother.
Who was Officer Georgiana?
Donna Georgiana says being a police officer was Mitchell's dream job. He died in November 2021.
"He took his own life, and it rocked our world. We never dreamed he was having any problems," said Donna.
Donna and her husband later learned that their son had been through a lot in his short career.
"He had 369 serious traumatic calls in 18 months. He had written 2584 reports in an 18-month career," said Donna.
Smyrna Police Officer Mitchell Georgiana took his own life in 2021, but his family and colleagues have honored his memory with a foundation dedication to shining a light on law enforcement kindness. (Supplied)
What is the Gotcha Covered Blankets foundation?
Two days before Mitchell died, he asked his mom for some extra blankets to give to the homeless on cold nights.
To honor Mitchell's life, his family started a foundation called Gotcha Covered Blankets.
They've handed out more than 2,000 special blankets to police across Cobb County and the surrounding area. Officers keep them in their patrol cars and give them to those they meet who need comfort.
What is the Blanket of Hope Award?
After hearing stories of the blankets being handed out, they decided to recognize those officers who go the extra mile to help others.
Smyrna Police Officer Brian Pyle, who worked with Mitchell, was recognized with the Blanket of Hope Award. Officer Pyle has handed out around 15 blankets. His first was to an Army Veteran who was having a mental health crisis.
"Just trying to get him to calm down. We talked for a long time, he asked to hug me, he cried on me. I told him Mitchell's story," said Officer Pyle.
A number of other officers were also honored for their acts of kindness to the public.
Gotcha Covered Blankets foundation is a dream given form to honor fallen Smyrna Police Officer Mitchell Georgiana, who took his life in 2021. (FOX 5)
"We need to acknowledge these officers for kindness and generosity that we don't see every day," said Donna.
Foundation champions police officers’ mental health
The foundation also sheds light on the suicide rate among police officers. Capt. David Betz from the Chelsea, Massachusetts Police Department knows this all too well. His son, David, was a police officer who committed suicide.
"All the tools we have at our disposal there's nothing to shield us from everything we see," said Capt. Betz.
Capt. Betz created a suicide awareness ribbon for law enforcement in memory of his son. He often speaks to organizations about the stress officers go through and recites what he calls the Mental Health Miranda.
"All officers know the Miranda, the mental health version is, you have the right to remain living, anything you say can only be used to help you," said Capt. Betz.
Capt. Betz, like the Georgiana's salute the men and women who wear the badge, and despite all they go through, still spread kindness.
"There's so many selfless acts that we don't hear about," said Donna.
This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is having thoughts of suicide, please call the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).