FBI honors New Tazewell police Lt. Ruszkowski

A New Tazewell Police detective was recognized on Tuesday evening by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for his diligence in tracking information that led to the indictment of an alleged serial child abuser.

Lt. Gary Ruszkowski was chosen for the award due to his use of the FBI Criminal Justice Information System Index Program.

“I’ve never seen anybody get this award, before. So, it’s a big deal,” said Jeffrey Blanton, FBI special agent.

The FBI Knoxville Division established the index program in 2008, Blanton said, as a result of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

“We realized that we had a gap, there – that we weren’t able to communicate with the state and federal partners like we wanted to,” said Blanton.

The system now holds roughly 7 million records, he added.

Blanton explained just how vital the program is to solving cases.

“What it does is, it allows state, federal and local agencies to submit their reports to the index program. An officer can query those things and try and find reports from all over the nation.

“That information sharing has been extremely helpful, for us,” said Blanton.

Ruszkowski, who has used the program on previous cases, was able to track down reports that substantiated a pattern of abuse in a case he was working in 2017. The case involved a seven year old who presented with bruises and other visible signs of possible child abuse.

“Gary realized it wasn’t quite right. He knew the father was not telling the truth. Through using the index sharing system, Gary was able to locate reports from Bradley County that actually identified that the father had been involved in similar incidents where he used another child in military-type tactics and discipline.

“Through that information, Gary was able to get the case bound over to the Grand Jury. It’s just good, old-fashioned police work,” said Blanton.

Jared Effler, attorney general of the 8th Judicial District, spoke during the ceremony of the high quality of work done by the New Tazewell Police Department and by Lt. Ruszkowski.

“I can tell you this is not an exception to the rule. This is the rule that my office experiences with your police department, on a daily basis. They go above and beyond. They’re not there to work for us. They’re there to work with us.

“We’re proud of the team. We cannot say enough good things about your department. And, I just wanted to echo that to you (Mayor Jerry Beeler) and the council members,” said Effler.

Prior to the presentation, Beeler said the ceremony was a “fantastic occasion” for the city.

“It speaks a lot for the character of the people who work in our police department and within the whole city (government). We work hard. We try to do a good job and tonight, we have proof of it,” said Beeler.

Blanton presented a second plaque of recognition to the members of the New Tazewell Police Department. Chief Ben Evans accepted it, on behalf of his officers.