For most working Americans, going home at the end of a workday is a trivial event often taken for granted. For law enforcement officers, it’s an accomplishment that is not to be understated.
Recently, three officers with the Aiken Department of Public Safety were awarded the Medal of Valor by the S.C. Law Enforcement Officers Association for showing tremendous bravery one deadly morning in May.
More than a dozen officers from Public Safety and the Aiken County Sheriff’s Office responded to a domestic disturbance 911 call from a home on Cherry Hills Drive on May 17.
A female victim told dispatchers her ex-husband had entered her home with a gun. Dispatchers heard gunshots, and the woman stopped talking.
Officers on the scene decided entry was necessary, and Capt. Marty Sawyer, Sgt. Craig Burgess and Officer Steve Miano volunteered for the dangerous task.
As they entered the home, a man lying several feet away fired shots at the officers, who returned fire. A single ballistic shield protected them.
An investigation later determined that the man shot his ex-wife, then shot himself just before opening fire on the officers responding to the woman’s call for help.
Any loss of life is tragic, but this ordeal could have ended much worse.
However, it must be noted that three officers were fired upon, and many more put themselves in striking distance of a dangerous man with a gun. But, every one of those officers made it home safely at the end of the day, and that is significant for a community and a police force that buried two officers just four months prior.
The Law Enforcement Officers Association recognized that.
“Any time those types of incidents are going down, there’s a tendency to be more guarded, and I think these people put that beside them and said the community needs to be protected,” Jarrod Bruder, executive director of the association, said of the Aiken officers. “Given that two officers had been killed in the line of duty beforehand and they were still willing to put their lives on the line made that even more special.”
It is a tremendous honor for three of Aiken’s own to receive such a prestigious award, and deservedly so. However, we must not forget about the countless other officers in this city and county who put their lives on the line every day to keep us safe – something we, again, take for granted.
Said Sgt. Jake Mahoney with Public Safety: “We all strive to be very humble servants. Their recognition is appreciated, but it’s no why we do what we do. We do what we do because of our dedication to this community.”
The anniversary of the shooting death of Master Public Safety Officer Scotty Richardson is Dec. 20 and Jan 28 for Master Cpl. Sandy Rogers. The Aiken community will again come together to remember two officers who made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting us.
Let’s give thanks to all our officers who still lay down their lives each day, allowing us to live ours peacefully.