The crowd committed a fire code violation today in Marshalltown. Fortunately, the Fire Marshall was right in the middle of it. So were the police, and the sheriff’s deputies, and heck, just about everyone else. It was all for Officer Vern Jefferson, who tonight, received the Medal of Valor…the highest honor given to a police officer in the line of duty.
“I was overwhelmed with so many people being here,” said Jefferson, softly.
Jefferson is a quiet guy but he’s as tough as his gun belt. He’s a former wrestler, a cage fighter, an U.S. Army veteran and a marathon runner…and when he arrived at this bank on November 2nd, he faced two armed men.
“As I’m pursuing, one turns and starts shooting at me so I shoot back,” Jefferson recalled, “he strikes me in the leg and I strike him…”
Jefferson then radioed the station.
“I was on my way out the door and hadn’t even hardly hit the door and I hear Officer Jefferson announce that he’s been involved with shots being fired and that he’d been hit,” said Chief Michael Tupper.
If that was a chief’s worst nightmare, this could be his best dream: Jefferson was okay, the suspects were both apprehended, and in front of a packed house, Tupper had a special opportunity.
“In my entire career, I’ve known maybe 2-3 people get a medal of valor,” Tupper said, “so it’s a big deal.”
“To me that’s about it,” said Jefferson, downplaying the moment, “we just do our job and what comes along with our duties, the dangers and everything.”
“He minimizes things, all the time,” Tupper said, “and says he’s just doing his job…and that doesn’t do justice to what he really did. He served this community proudly, he was courageous and he went through a lot just to get back to work so he could come back to full duty.”
If there’s never another day like this in Marshalltown, that’ll be okay. After all, this one hardly went unnoticed.