Five community leaders achieved the 2021 Hometown Hero awards Friday from the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford and Cannon counties.
CAC Board Vice President Terry Fann and Executive Director Sharon De Boer presented the awards during the 6th Annual Hometown Heroes Walk for Children.
“Each of these Hometown Heroes is a passionate advocate for children,” De Boer said. “They are servant leaders who have dedicated their careers to making our community a better place for children and families.”
The awards were presented during the annual Child Abuse Prevention Month event. Award winners are Dr. Tammy Garrett formerly with Murfreesboro City Schools, Department of Children’s Services Team Coordinator Taminko Amuzu, Murfreesboro Police Chief Michael Bowen, Assistant District Attorney General Hugh T. Ammerman, and Child Advocacy Center Forensic Interview Coordinator Amanda Pruitt.
Former Murfreesboro City Schools principal Dr. Tammy Garrett will send a text at the end of the school day. The text says, “I have a mom in my office. Her child needs help.” She connects the Child Advocacy Center staff with a crying mother who reports her child is being sexually abused. You can hear the relief in the mother’s voice that she has a strong children’s advocate like this Hometown Hero helping her navigate the child abuse reporting system.
Garrett values the whole child. She knows a child cannot learn when they are worried about what is happening in their home—domestic violence, child physical and sexual abuse, and children exposed to their parents’ drug use. Over the last 13 years, the Child Advocacy Center has taken many concerned calls about a child from this Hometown Hero. She genuinely cares.
Dr. Garrett completed her bachelor’s degree in education, her Master’s Degree in Instructional Leadership, and her EdD degree in Administration and Supervision. She joined Murfreesboro City Schools as the Coordinator of Teaching and Learning, and served as a principal at Mitchell-Neilson and Hobgood Elementary where many at-risk children go to school. She was recognized as the Mid-Cumberland Region Principal of the Year in 2018.
When it was time for Dr. Linda Arms Gilbert to nominate her replacement to the Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors, she recommended Dr. Tammy Garrett. Gilbert said, “She won’t be me. But, she will be the closest to me that you will ever find.”
When you see Department of Children’s Services Team Coordinator Taminko Amuzu, you notice her warm smile and her kind, friendly demeanor. She naturally makes children and families relax and feel comfortable.
When you first meet Amuzu, she immediately impresses you with the strength of her convictions and her genuine concern about child abuse victims, child sexual abuse victims, and drug endangered children. Her passion about protecting children is contagious. Her leadership has made the Rutherford County Department of Children’s Services a huge success.
Amuzu attained her bachelor’s degree in Education and earned her Master’s Degree in Public Service Management. She worked her way up through the ranks at the Department of Children’s Services and did an outstanding job in every position from the Child Abuse Hotline, to case worker, to Child Protective Services Team Leader, to Rutherford County Team Coordinator. She was recently promoted to Team Coordinator for Sumner, Wilson, and Trousdale Counties.
Over the last 18 years, Taminko Amuzu worked tirelessly to protect children. This Hometown Hero is humble and the work she does is often behind the scenes with no public recognition—such as answering emergency calls from on-call staff 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. She is a strong leader who is well-respected. She has helped our CPIT Management Team and our community to understand how to work together to protect children.
Murfreesboro Police Chief Michael Bowen began his career in law enforcement 33 years ago at the Murfreesboro Police Department as a patrol officer. He rose through the ranks as sergeant, lieutenant and captain over patrol services. This Hometown Hero was promoted to Deputy Chief in 2010 and Murfreesboro Police Chief in 2017.
Children and families are a priority to Chief Bowen. In 2013, the Murfreesboro Criminal Investigations Division formed its own Special Victims Unit. This Hometown Hero has appointed some of the very best and brightest detectives from Murfreesboro Police Department to serve in the Special Victims Unit.
Chief Bowen is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command. He earned his Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice. He is a graduate of Leadership Rutherford. He is a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Tennessee Association of Chiefs of Police.
The Child Advocacy Center works closely with Chief Bowen on the Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors and the Child Protective Investigative Management Team. This Hometown Hero is commended for his outstanding service to the Murfreesboro community and his dedication to justice for our community’s youngest and most vulnerable crime victims—child abuse and child sexual abuse victims.
Assistant District Attorney General Hugh T. Ammerman is like a bulldog in Child Protective Investigative Team meetings. He expects cases to be thoroughly investigated. When this Hometown Hero hears about each new child abuse case, he genuinely cares about the child victim. He aggressively prosecutes the case, holds the perpetrator accountable for the crime, and tries to protect the child from future abuse. He is passionate about making our community a better place to children to live.
Ammerman graduated from the University of the South and Tulane Law School. He interned with the domestic violence unit in the Davidson County District Attorney’s office. The District Attorney’s office hired him full time in 2004.
In 2015, Ammerman came to the Murfreesboro District Attorney’s office and has worked here as a Child Physical and Sexual Abuse Prosecutor. He has two children—Nora age 11 and Luke age 7. He was drawn to the prosecutor’s office because he is committed to helping child victims.
Ammerman is a tireless prosecutor, whose unceasing efforts have brought justice and closure for many children. His abilities in the courtroom and willingness to work as part of a team have made him an invaluable part of the District Attorney’s office. When he goes to court— this Hometown Hero is the Child Protective Investigative Team’s bulldog and more importantly the child’s bulldog, aggressively prosecuting crimes against children.
When children walk into the Child Advocacy Center, their faces show they are nervous and afraid. Forensic Interview Coordinator Amanda Pruitt calms the child, quickly builds rapport, and helps the child feel comfortable to share their deepest, darkest secret of shame and sexual abuse. The child walks out of the forensic interview room relieved. Children feel like this huge burden is no longer their problem to solve alone. This is the first step in the healing process for child sexual abuse victims. They told their story, they were believed, and the professionals on the Child Protective Investigative Team will help them.
Pruitt earned her Bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in Social Work. Before coming to the Child Advocacy Center, she was an in-home counselor, case manager, and a mental health clinician. She started working for the Child Advocacy Center in 2013 as the Drug Endangered Children Coordinator. She became the Forensic Interviewer and later was promoted to Forensic Interview Coordinator and the Child Advocacy Center Leadership Team.
Pruitt has received extensive forensic interview training from the National Children’s Advocacy Center in Huntsville and CornerHouse in Minneapolis. This Hometown Hero describes her training as learning how to really listen to children.
It takes a special person to listen to those horrible stories of unimaginable child sexual abuse every day and go home and be a great wife to her husband and great mom to her three children.
“All of these Hometown Heroes have never desired any recognition for their accomplishments because it has never been about them,” concluded De Boer, “It has always been about the children.”
Pictured: Assistant District Attorney General Hugh T. Ammerman, Department of Children’s Services Team Coordinator Taminko Amuzu, former Murfreesboro City Schools principal Dr. Tammy Garrett, Murfreesboro Police Chief Michael Bowen, and Child Advocacy Center Forensic Interview Coordinator Amanda Pruitt were presented Hometown Hero Awards on Friday, April 30, 2021 at the Hometown Heroes Walk for Children.