Constable Tim Moody, Sheriff Ed Cain, Chief Paul Darks, and Investigator Billy Malone were all surprised to find out that they have been nominated for an award of Valor by the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education.
Kountze Police Chief Paul Darks is not new to Hardin County or law enforcement. However, he is new to the office he now occupies as chief, and while sifting through old files in his newly acquired office space, he came across a file that had no title.
Just as any seasoned investigator would do, Darks pulled out the file to take a closer look.
What he found was both unexpected and gratifying to say the least.
The file contained a small stack of paperwork that had been filled out and submitted by prior Kountze Police Chief Andrew Trahan.
The paperwork did not appear out of the ordinary at first, but upon further investigation Darks realized that there were four submissions to the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education (TCLEOSE). They were nominations for an award of Valor for himself, along with Sheriff Ed Cain, Investigator Billy Malone, and Constable Tim Moody.
Created by Senate Bill 992 in 1989, the awards are presented to selected peace officers, jailers, and custodial officers who are licensed by TCLEOSE and exceed the normal expectations of the job performance through acts of professional achievement, public service, or valor.
While reading the submissions, Darks learned Trahan submitted the nominations after he witnessed each officer's performance at an incident that occurred during the summer of 2012.
The officers were called to a Kountze residence to handle a disturbance. Upon arrival, they soon learned that the situation had taken a dangerous turn and that one victim was gravely injured and in need of immediate help.
Darks, Cain, Malone and Moody all coordinated their movements strategically, and in one swift maneuver, they were able to bring the injured Hardin County resident to safety, where she could receive the medical attention she desperately needed.
According to Trahan's nomination letter, the only protection the officers had was the bullet proof vest they wore. There were no Kevlar helmets or blast shields available for them to use as protection. They knowingly exposed themselves in the open to possible gunfire with no cover.
Trahan stated in his letter to TCLEOSE that he witnessed "this act of bravery firsthand and was in awe." He went on to say that as a Peace Officer for over 20 years, he believes that each officer displayed the characteristics associated with valor and knowingly took the ultimate risk to preserve life.
"These officers placed their own lives in danger to save another," Trahan sais. "Had this action not taken place, it is my firm belief that the victim would not have survived."
After reading Trahan's testimony, Chief Darks was surprised and thrilled but he questioned why Trahan had never mentioned the submissions.
He picked up the phone and made a call to North Texas to speak with Trahan, who is now part of the Sheriff's Department in that area. Trahan explained to Darks that he wanted it to be a surprise but he was neither surprised nor upset that Darks had found the file. With Trahan's blessing, Darks began contacting each officers involved.
"All of us had the same reaction," Darks said. "We were pleased, shocked and grateful all at the same time."
Darks recalls that the only thing that was on their minds was to bring the victim to safety and get her the medical attention she needed. The thought of being shot did not cross their minds during that moment.
"We never gave our actions a second thought," he said. "We were not thinking about being shot. We just had to get her (the victim) out of there. When I read Trahan's letter, I felt 10-feet tall. I never gave it a second thought – but he did. For him to think of us that way makes me feel great."
Darks made each officer involved, a copy of the nomination packet and not surprisingly, each had the same reaction.
While they each were extremely pleased, their first thought goes back to the victim and the fact that she needed help.
The officers take an oath to protect and these four gentlemen hold that oath front and center in everything they do.
The officers have not found out if they will receive the award, but it makes no difference to them. The fact that they were nominated is enough for them, and the fact that they saved a life that June day is never far from their minds.