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Ex-addict suggests Medford cop for TV award

Manoah Hall is an avid fan of gritty reality shows "COPS" and "America's Most Wanted," but he knows that true heroics aren't always the stuff of TV drama.

In fact, he credits Medford police officer Tim Garr with saving his life with a simple conversation.

In September 2007, Hall was caught up in methamphetamine addiction and criminal activity when Garr was called to back up an Ashland police officer dealing with Hall, who was under the influence and causing trouble.

Even though Hall was high that night, he remembers Garr pulling him aside and pointing out that his 5-week-old daughter needed him.

"He talked to me about being a parent and it stuck with me," Hall said. "When I came down, it was still with me."

Garr's point stuck with Hall through drug and family court, through treatment programs, through difficult moments alone.

The conversation has remained a focus throughout his recovery, Hall said.

"I would be in prison if not for that night. This gave me a chance to be a father," Hall said, noting that the chance was especially important to him because his own father had abandoned him when he was young.

So when Hall — now 33, sober for more than 18 months and a full-time student at Rogue Community College with a fiancee and busy toddler daughter at home — saw that "America's Most Wanted" was honoring police, firefighters, emergency medical technicians and other professionals on the first line of response in an emergency, he thought of Garr.

Each year, the popular Fox crime-fighting show gives an all-star award to one of those first responders. Viewers vote online over the course of eight weeks to choose eight finalists, and one wins a trip to NASCAR's Sprint Cup Series All-Star Challenge at Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte, N.C., where John Walsh, the host of "America's Most Wanted," will present the winner a $10,000 cash award.

Garr responded modestly to Hall's nomination, even telling a screener from "America's Most Wanted" that he wasn't sure he was qualified to be an all-star.

"I said I wasn't in a blazing gun battle taking out a gang of bad guys or anything, but she said it represented the totality of a law enforcement job," Garr said.

He decided to accept the nomination, pointing out that it could have been anybody in his department or any department who responded that night and said the thing that made the difference.

"You talk to people and you try to plant that seed," said Garr, who admits that as a father himself, he strives especially hard to break through in cases involving children. "I knew that if he messed up, he would never know what he was missing."

Garr, 43, is an Air Force veteran who worked for the Jackson County Sheriff's Department for seven years before joining Medford police eight years ago. In 2007, he received the Medford Police Department's life-saving award and a Red Cross Professional Service Award for resuscitating a 5-month-old boy who had stopped breathing.

He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and has organized Medford's Veterans' Day parade for the past three years. He is involved in his sons' Cub Scout and Boy Scout troops, and he's active in youth and adult soccer leagues.

Oregon law prohibits police officers from accepting cash awards for on-duty service, so Garr will donate any prizes he receives in the all-star contest.

But more importantly, he explained in e-mails announcing his nomination, he wants to share the recognition with law enforcement professionals everywhere who might not ever hear about the difference they make just doing their jobs.

Reach reporter Anita Burke at 776-4485, or e-mail aburke@mailtribune.com.

Manoah Hall, left, credits Medford police officer Tim Garr with helping him step out of a life of crime and meth addiction. Hall has nominated Garr for an All-Star award for police officers from TV’s “America's Most Wanted” show. - Jamie Lusch