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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of South Dakota

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, May 2, 2018

U.S. Attorney Meets with South Dakota Police Chiefs’ Association and Sheriffs’ Association

South Dakota Law Enforcement Officers Honored at Joint Conference Held in Deadwood

Deadwood, SD – United States Attorney Ron Parsons attended the Spring Conference of the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ Association and South Dakota Sheriffs’ Association held in Deadwood, South Dakota, on April 17-19, 2018.  Dennis Holmes, Criminal Chief for the District, also represented the U.S. Attorney’s Office at the conference.

U.S. Attorney Parsons briefed the gathering of top local law enforcement officers on Department of Justice efforts to combat violent crime and drug trafficking, including the reinvigoration of Project Safe Neighborhoods and increased focus on prosecuting drug dealers responsible for overdose deaths.  He also attended panel discussions on the opioid epidemic’s impact on South Dakota and Operation Safe Streets, a neighborhood policing initiative by the Sioux Falls Police Department and South Dakota Highway Patrol.

During the conference, several South Dakota law enforcement officers were honored for their bravery in the line of duty and other extraordinary efforts on behalf of the people they serve.

“The men and women who wear the badge risk their own lives to protect our families and communities from the horrors of violence and illegal drugs,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons.  “They are heroes walking among us.  All of us owe an immense debt of gratitude to these dedicated officers.”

The 2018 honorees and their accomplishments are detailed below.

Medal of Honor

The Medal of Honor is given jointly by the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ and South Dakota Sheriffs’ Associations to law enforcement officers who willingly distinguish themselves through an act of courage, involving a risk of imminent serious injury or death, for the purpose of saving or protecting a human life or while taking an armed and immediately dangerous suspect into custody.  Two Medal of Honor Awards were given at this year’s conference:

Trooper Devrin Clark.  The first recipient of this year’s Medal of Honor was Trooper Devrin Clark of the South Dakota Highway Patrol.  On November 26, 2017, Trooper Clark was working along Interstate 229 in Sioux Falls. He observed a Silver Mitsubishi Endeavor that was traveling 81 miles per hour in a 65 mile per hour zone.

Trooper Clark caught up with the vehicle and initiated a traffic stop.  The Mitsubishi slowed and began to move to the right side of the roadway.  Just as it appeared to be pulling over, the vehicle suddenly accelerated.  It drove up on the right shoulder, passing two cars and nearly striking one of them.

Trooper Clark notified dispatch of the pursuit. The driver of the Mitsubishi was traveling more than 100 miles per hour, passing vehicles on the shoulder and sometimes driving on the grass along the side of the road and in the median.

About three minutes into the pursuit, the vehicle lost control near the top of an exit ramp.  It struck a sign pole, then hit a concrete bridge barrier on the overpass.  The vehicle caught fire almost immediately with the driver trapped inside.  Risking his own life, Trooper Clark pulled the young female suspect out of the burning vehicle.  She was unable to move due to a severe leg fracture.  After pulling her to safety, Trooper Clark went back to check for other occupants.  Fortunately, no one else was in the vehicle. 

Trooper Clark put his own life in danger to save the life of a fleeing suspect.  There is no higher calling for a law enforcement officer than to protect life and limb.  The juvenile’s mother thanked Trooper Clark for saving her daughter’s life.

Deputy Micah Hofman.  The second recipient of this year’s Medal of Honor was Deputy Sheriff Micah Hofman, Lake County Sheriff’s Office, for the life-saving actions he took in the early morning of May 3, 2017, in rural Lake County. 

At approximately 2:00 a.m., Deputy Hofman responded to the scene of an active shooting where a McCook County Deputy had been shot following a vehicle pursuit and was pinned down by gunfire.  The deputy had received a gunshot wound to his left arm.

Deputy Hofman drove his patrol vehicle directly into the active gunfire, picked up the injured deputy who was seeking cover behind his patrol vehicle, and evacuated him to safety.  Deputy Hofman then drove the deputy to the Madison Hospital.  The suspect was later taken into custody after a several-hour standoff in a field.

Deputy Hofman risked his own life driving into an active gun fight with a heavily-armed suspect.  Had he not taken this action, the injured deputy might well have been killed.

Officer of the Year Award

The Officer of the Year Award is given jointly by the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ and South Dakota Sheriffs’ Associations for exceptional achievement in any police endeavor, including extraordinary valor, crime prevention, investigative work, community policing, traffic safety, drug control and prevention, juvenile programs and training programs.

The recipient of this year’s Officer of the Year Award was Detective Joe Leveque, Sturgis Police Department, for his efforts on behalf of children in the Sturgis community.  In 2017, Detective Leveque was asked to help find a way financially to keep the local youth boxing club’s doors from closing.  Eager to help, Detective Leveque sought out a national program called Police Athletic League (PAL).  He started the program in Sturgis, the first and only such program in the state.  His goal was to help build up the boxing program, as well as give the Police Department a way to positively interact with local youth in hopes of deterring juvenile crime.  He has been successful in securing local and national grants and donations to purchase everything the boxing club needs to function.  He is also working to develop several other youth programs in the community.

Chief John Wainman Sr. Service Award

The Chief John Wainman Sr. Service Award is given for contributions by a member of the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ Association who exceeds the high standard and contributions normally made by members.  This year’s award was presented to Lieutenant Todd Brandt, Yankton Police Department.

On Tuesday, June 13, 2017, Lieutenant Brandt was advised that Lyle Jeffs, a fugitive on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, was reported to be in the Yankton area.  According to reports, Jeffs had entered a local pawn shop and attempted to pawn some items.  The following day, Lieutenant Brandt noticed the license plates identified in the report on a parked pick-up truck belonging to Jeffs.  He called for back-up, but by then Jeffs was already exiting the outdoor bathroom at the local marina.  Not wanting Jeffs to elude capture, Lieutenant Brandt put out a “Help an Officer” call, then exited his personal vehicle and apprehended the suspect on his own.  Multiple units arrived at the scene and safely took Jeffs into custody without incident.

Citizen’s Award of Merit

The Citizen’s Award of Merit is given jointly by the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ and South Dakota Sheriffs’ Associations.  The award is presented to a citizen, company or group who performed an exceptional act or demonstrated a continued pattern of actions that furthered the missions and goals of the SDPCA and SDSA, or who have made a significant contribution to the law enforcement profession in the State of South Dakota.

The recipient of this year’s Citizen’s Award of Merit was Chris Schafer, Hamlin County Director of Equalization.  On August 17, 2017, Schafer and a colleague were traveling home to Castlewood and came upon an accident.  A semi-truck pulling double trailers had hit a train and was on fire.  Schafer immediately jumped out to help.  The driver was pinned inside the cab.  Two train engineers were trying to put the fire out, to no avail.  Schafer realized they would not be able to get the fire out, so he worked to open the door and get the driver out of the semi-truck.  Schafer was able to pull the driver out just seconds before it was engulfed in flames.  The 16-year old driver had multiple injuries, but Schafer’s quick thinking and experience saved the young man’s life.

On behalf of us all, the U.S. Attorney’s Office congratulates and thanks these South Dakota law enforcement officers and citizens for their bravery and dedication, and commends the South Dakota Police Chiefs’ Association and Sheriffs’ Association for honoring these heroes.

 

 

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Updated May 2, 2018