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Four JCSO deputies receive awards

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Four Jackson County Sheriff’s Office deputies were recognized last month at the 2021 Oregon State Sheriff’s Association awards banquet held in Bend.

Personnel from the JCSO earned three Awards of Valor as well as the award for Search and Rescue Deputy of the Year. The Award of Valor is presented in recognition of a selfless and courageous act risking their own life with full awareness of the danger involved.

Jackson County Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Prins
Chad Prins

Eagle Point Police Department was dispatched to a domestic dispute involving a firearm Feb. 23, 2021. The suspect left in a vehicle while officers were on the way.

A few minutes later Eagle Point police spotted the suspect vehicle. Sheriff’s deputies assisted in handling the incident.

Sheriff’s Deputy Chad Prins and approached the vehicle to identify the suspect. Without warning a man fired a handgun from the passenger seat, striking Prins in the chest.

The bullet struck Prins’ ballistic vest from point-blank range. He moved to cover and returned fire. Prins soon realized the driver was injured during the exchange of gunfire and in danger so he rescued the man from the line of fire and began providing medical aid.

“Showing courage after being shot in the line of duty, and ultimately risking his life to save that of another, is why Deputy Prins received the Award of Valor,” a JCSO news release said.

Brent Hegdahl, Ben Weaver

On Aug. 11, 2021, JCSO was involved in a multi-agency pursuit of an armed carjacker. JCSO Deputy Brent Hegdahl quickly became the law enforcement officer leading the suspect pursuit.

JCSO Deputy Brent Hegdahl

JCSO Sgt. Ben Weaver was the on-duty patrol sergeant and coordinated with multiple agencies to keep the suspect in view.

JCSO Sgt. Ben Weaver

The suspect drove recklessly throughout the pursuit and exceeded 100 mph numerous times. Spike strips were used as the suspect entered the city of Medford, but the suspect continued to travel through neighborhoods.

Based on the continued risk to the public, Weaver ordered Hegdahl to initiate a Pursuit Intervention Technique maneuver, successfully disabling the vehicle by causing it to crash into a hedge. While still inside the vehicle, the suspect raised a handgun and fired at Hegdahl.

Both Weaver, Hegdahl and a Medford police officer returned fire, striking the suspect multiple times. Once he stopped firing and was believed to be unconscious, police approached and removed him from the vehicle to begin rendering aid until Medford Fire Department medics took over, saving his life.

The man was later identified as the suspect in a string of violent crimes to include the shooting of a man in front of his child, an armed carjacking in Portland, and the disappearance of his girlfriend in Yakima, Washington.

“The courageous actions of these deputies alongside local law enforcement agencies led to the arrest of a dangerous, violent offender, while ensuring the safety of our community. For that reason, Sergeant Weaver and Deputy Hegdahl received Awards of Valor,” the JCSO said.

David Duke

JCSO Deputy David Duke received the award for Oregon State Sheriff’s Association Command Council Search and Rescue Deputy of the Year for outstanding professional achievement and accomplishment while going above and beyond in performing his duties for JCSO Search and Rescue.

JCSO Deputy David Duke

In 2021, Duke participated in nearly 140 Search and Rescue missions, often acting as team leader. Overall, his time in the field on such missions totaled 1,000 hours.

Duke helps run and manage the Tactical Rope Rescue Team and is a level one member of the team. He founded the Bike Response Team, a small-unit, quick-reaction force that rapidly responds to locate a lost or injured subject, provide initial medical care, and prepare for the ground teams to carry out these essential tasks. He is also a member of the Snow Response Group.

Duke obtained the highest level of advanced Search and Rescue qualification in 2021.

“For his selfless dedication to SAR and the safety of the county, Deputy Duke received the OSSA 2021 SAR Deputy of the Year,” the JCSO release said.