Six Wasatch Front law enforcement officers were honored by the Utah Peace Officers Association Thursday with medals for bravery shown while in the line of duty.
The awards are presented annually by the 75-year-old association, which has 2,500 members from law enforcement agencies across Utah, association officer Lt. Karl Hirst of the Orem Police Department said. Any member of the association can nominate an officer for the awards.Honored with the Purple Heart award were Salt Lake County Sheriff's Lt. Steve Alexander, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Deputy Mike Quintana, Salt Lake City officer Jeff Payne and West Valley Police Detective Robert Idle.
Alexander was shot in the head by a suspect on Sept. 22, 1997, while assisting officers who were trying to serve a protective order at a Magna residence. Quintana was struck in the face by bullet shrapnel during the same Magna incident.
Payne, who in addition to working for Salt Lake City is a reserve officer in Davis County, was shot in the left shoulder by a suspect during a traffic stop.
Idle was also injured in a traffic stop in West Valley City, Aug. 15, 1997. The suspect used an assault weapon to pummel Idle with five bullets. The injury has left him with only partial use of one of his hands.
"It was really gratifying to be recognized that way by your peers," said Idle, who added that he was surprised to receive the award. "I don't base my career on getting awards. I'd like to say thanks to all the guys who have offered me their support."
Thursday's ceremony was an emotional experience for Idle.
"It's tough to relive what happened that night," he said.
West Valley City Police detectives Kory Newbold and Chad Evans received the Medal of Valor for their role in the Aug. 15 shooting. Newbold pursued and caught the suspect who shot Idle, putting his own life at risk. Evans went to Idle's rescue.
Also receiving the Medal of Valor were Orem police officer Bill Young and Wasatch County sheriff's Deputy Terry Brown. During a 1996 fire at a Wasatch County residence, both men ran into the home and rescued a disabled man. They escaped just moments before the roof of the home collapsed. Young was a reserve officer for Wasatch County at the time of the fire.