2001 Award for Valor
Detective John Thompson - University of Utah
Detective John Thompson has been with the University of Utah Police Department for almost ten years. During that time he has worked patrol, investigations, narcotics, and was assigned to the local DEA task force for a year. He served in the United States Navy prior to his police career.
On February 9, 2000 at 0600 hours, the tactical team from the University of Utah was serving a narcotics search warrant on an off-campus Salt Lake City residence that was supplying drugs to the campus community. Sergeant Bradley N. Buckmiller, Special Investigations Division, was in charge of the tactical team and Detective Thompson was one of the element leaders on the entry team.
During the entry one of the officers was involved in a shooting. Listed below are the details of the incident. The team leader pounded loudly on the door, announcing "POLICE! POLICE! POLICE! SERVING A SEARCH WARRANT!" At the same time, another officer begins the same announcement over a bullhorn. He continued to make the announcement in both English and Spanish.
After the appropriate announcements were made, the officers breeched the front door while officers inside and outside the house continued to announce their presence in both English and Spanish. Once inside the drug house where undercover police officers had previously purchased cocaine, officers safely took five people into custody. Then they reached the last door in the house - it was closed and locked. Officers continued to announce their presence in both languages.
When Detective John Thompson finally got the locked door open, he came face-to-face with a man raising and pointing a cocked and loaded rifle at him and the other officers. Detective Thompson acted quickly, firing on the armed suspect saving not only his own life but also the lives of the three other police officers who were lined up next to and behind him.
The suspect survived and was convicted on state felony drug charges for selling cocaine. He is currently in jail awaiting trial on federal weapons charges related the incident. Since the suspect was using a rifle that day, none of the tactical armor worn by the officers would have stopped the rifle round. John Thompson is a hero who saved four lives that day.