A Salt Lake County sheriff's sergeant who dodged bullets last fall to rescue a wounded officer received an international award for his heroism.
Sgt. Jim Potter was named the Robert J. O'Neill Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the International Footprinters Association during its convention Saturday in Salt Lake City.Potter was off-duty and dressed in white shorts and a T-shirt when he responded as backup on a Sept. 22 shooting in a Magna neighborhood. Fellow officer Lt. Steve Alexander had taken a bullet in the head from an assault rifle and lay bleeding next to a patrol car.
Another officer, Sgt. Steve Roland, was holding onto Alexander's head to stop the bleeding when Potter dodged oncoming bullets to join the pair. Potter began slapping the pavement to encourage Alexander to move to safety. After the wounded officer had traveled so far, he collapsed and Potter carried him to safety. Alexander has since recovered from his injury and returned to duty.
Potter said he was flattered to receive the award, but said the actions of Roland and Alexander deserved the same recognition.
"I keep going back to the fact that there are two other guys that I feel real strongly about," Potter said. "There were lots of people at that scene doing great things."
Stan Jacobson, former national president, said Potter was nominated as a candidate by Capt. Lloyd Prescott, another member of the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office who received the award for his role in a hostage standoff at the library several years ago.
Two Weber County Utah Highway Patrol troopers, Lt. Kevin Youngberg and Sgt. Brad Horne, were also under consideration for the award for saving the life of a 20-year-old man trapped in the Weber River in an overturned vehicle.
In addition, the Ogden chapter of the association received the award for most outstanding chapter for its community involvement, active membership and innovative programs. A member of that chapter, Bill Arnold, was named fifth national vice president.