Garner Wins National Award
Sgt. Justin Garner, of the Carthage police force, will be going to Oklahoma next month to accept a national award for valor.
The National Tactical Officers Association (NTOA) chose him to receive its 2009 Individual Award of Valor "for his actions on Sunday morning, March 29, at the Pinelake Health and Rehabilitation Center."
Retired Lt. Robert Parker, who chairs the NTOA High Risk Patrol Section, nominated Garner for facing a shotgun-wielding killer who had already shot and killed seven elderly residents and a male nurse who was trying to protect them.
Garner, alone in a still and silent hallway at the center of the facility, fired his service pistol as he saw a tall, bearded man reload the shotgun he was carrying and then bring it to bear on him and pull the trigger. The officer still carries one of three shotgun pellets that struck him. His own shots wounded his assailant, and Garner was able to secure the assailant and make the arrest.
"I am happy to report that the Awards Committee has selected Officer Garner to be the 2009 recipient of this prestigious award," said John Gnagey, NTOA Executive Director in a letter to Chief Chris McKenzie. "I would like to invite you or your representative and officer Garner to attend the conference."
McKenzie decided that Garner's wife, Stephanie, would be a good choice to attend the banquet and represent Carthage Police Department. The Garners will fly to Tulsa for the Sept. 17 ceremony.
Garner has recently been promoted from corporal to sergeant and will accept formal honors for that promotion at the September meeting of the Town Board.
The promotion ceremony -- where a family member pins the new badge of rank on an officer -- was originally to have taken place at the August session of the Carthage commissioners but was postponed to the following month so that more of Garner's family would be able to attend.
His promotion and the national award for valor from the NTOA are not the only honors the young officer has received lately. A nomination from Maj. Bart Davis, of the Carthage Police Department, resulted in Garner's receiving $500 as a Positive Force Award -- part of a program by The Force: Uniforms Made for Heroes to recognize officers across the country.
"Each year, we've presented the award to an officer who has gone above and beyond the call of duty," said Daniel Bateman, of The Force. "After going over all the submissions we have chosen your act of bravery on March 29, 2009, as worthy of winning the Positive Force award."
Garner will receive a commemorative plaque as well. Other honors have come his way. Along with families of those who died at Pinelake and those who were wounded, Garner received a monetary award in the amount of $3,900, according to McKenzie.
It looked like a lot of money to the young officer. He asked his chief what he should do with all this money.
"Take your wife someplace real nice," McKenzie said. "That's what I'd do."
For now, it looks like that will be Oklahoma.
Contact John Chappell at 783-5841 or by e-mail at email@example.com.
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