Six officers from Mount Vernon and one from Burlington were chosen by the state Office of the Attorney General to receive a state Law Enforcement Medal of Honor.
Seven Skagit County police officers have received the state’s highest honor for law-enforcement officers.
Six officers from Mount Vernon and one from Burlington were chosen by the state attorney general to receive a state Law Enforcement Medal of Honor.
“It’s to honor those who we’ve lost in the line of duty — the ones who’ve made the biggest sacrifice — and the officers who have gone above and beyond in their duties to serve and honor and protect,” said Shannon Sessions, director of Safety Sessions, which helped organize this year’s event, on Friday.
Mount Vernon police officer Mike “Mick” McClaughry, who was shot in the head Dec. 15 while responding to a report of a gunshot, was honored for receiving a serious injury in the line of duty.
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Mount Vernon police Sgts. Mike Don and Pete Lindberg, officers Ben Green, Wayne Jones and Liz Paul, and Burlington police officer Preston Payne were honored for meritorious conduct for their actions related to that night’s shooting and their efforts to save McClaughry’s life.
“The exceptional courage that was demonstrated by our staff while saving Mick was pretty overwhelming,” Mount Vernon Police Chief Jerry Dodd said. “These officers risked their lives. Sometimes I think officers are very humble and they say, ‘No we’re just doing our jobs,’ but truly it’s risking their lives to save others. And that’s really beyond the call.”
Payne was one of the first on the scene and helped pull McClaughry to safety, Dodd said.
“The Burlington Police Department is very proud of officer Payne and his courageous actions on the evening of Dec. 15, 2016,” Burlington Assistant Chief Tom Moser said. “It is very fitting that he, along with the others that stepped in harm’s way on that night to protect the community and aid a critically injured officer, are recognized with this exceptional honor.”
This is the first time in Dodd’s 38 years with the department that a Mount Vernon officer has received the award, he said.
“I’m very proud of watching our officers receive the award,” Dodd said. “It is so meaningful to look at the officers who have done that. It’s on the top of my list, and I’ve been here for 38 years.”
To receive the award, officers must be nominated by their commanding officers — in this case Dodd and former Burlington Police Chief Bill Van Wieringen — and then must be vetted by the Attorney General’s Office.
“It’s basically either a fallen officer or it’s extraordinary-type heroism,” Dodd said.
While the event, held at the state Peace Officers Memorial in Olympia, can be bittersweet, Dodd looked at it as a celebration.