Sheriff’s deputy surprised by Exchange Club’s annual officer honor

By Matt Hopf Herald-Whig
Posted: Feb. 24, 2017 10:15 pm Updated: Feb. 24, 2017 11:46 pm
Tommy Pickett was at a loss for words.
In front of a standing ovation Friday at the Quincy Elks Club, the 23year
veteran of the Adams County
Sheriff’s Department accepted the Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award from the Quincy
Exchange Club. This is the 51st year the club has given the award out.
“I didn’t realize this was going on,” said Pickett, who is currently assigned to the West Central Illinois
Task Force. “This is awesome. I love my job, and I love going to work.”
He thanked his wife, Michele, and their two kids, Thomas Jr. and Hannah, who attended Friday’s
“If I didn’t have my wife, I couldn’t do the job I do,” Pickett said. “I work all kinds of hours, but I love it.
I love working with all the guys and gals here. They deserve it just as much as I do.”
He was happy to see the task force recognized because much of its work is behind the scenes.
Pickett joined the Sheriff’s Department in 1994 as a correctional officer. He became a deputy in 2000,
and since 2005, he has served as an inspector with the task force and an investigator at the Sheriff’s
Sheriff Brian VonderHaar said that in 2016 alone, Pickett opened more than 50 felony drug cases and
has made more than 30 arrests involving drug activity. He is regularly known to work after hours and
late into the evening to work with confidential informants and investigate cases.
“His work has not only resulted in dangerous drug arrests, his work has also been important in
identifying dangerous or neglectful living environments for the children who live in the households with
those struggling with dangerous drug addiction,” VonderHaar said.
Looking forward, Pickett said the investigations will continue.
“Meth is still the biggest problem we have,” he said. “Since New Year’s, it’s been nonstop.”
Also awarded Friday was the Citizen of the Year award, which went to Rhonda Murry.
Murry was lauded for her work with the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, where she
administers support programs in five counties to improve outcomes for children. She and her husband,
Rocky, lead the Quincy Neighborhood Federation, which operates three neighborhood youth centers.
The organization is funded solely by private funds.
“I alone do not deserve this award,” Murry said. “We have a fantastic board for Quincy Area Project,
which supports us financially for the last 30 years.”
She also thanked her “sidekick,” Rocky.