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Sirens & Gavels

Sheriff’s deputy honored for airborne service

A Spokane County Deputy was honored nationally for helping safely guide deputies on two high speed chases last year.

Tactical Flight Officer Jeff Thurman was named the Tactical Flight Officer of the Year award at the last week’s Airborne Law Enforcement Association conference in Orlando, according to a news release.

On June 19, 2012, Thurman provided air support for the manhunt of Charles R. Wallace, a heroin dealer who shot deputies Michael Northway and Matthew Spink during a traffic stop before fleeing, according to the release. Thurman coordinated officers and helped organize a safe perimeter for deputies Wallace was shooting at.

The chase ended after about 20 minutes, when Thurman guided deputies to lay spike strips in Deer Park, stopping Wallace, who shot himself to death to avoid arrest, according to the release.

In a separate incident on New Year’s Eve last year, Thurman responded to two shootings, according to the release. Shannon L. Johnson had shot two men, killing one of them and fled, leading police on a chase for the suspect.

Johnson later crashed his car and fled the scene, according to the release. Thurman and his crew responded to the site and used thermal imaging to find Johnson, who was hidden motionless among rocks near the Spokane River.

There are more than 200 airborne law enforcement units in the U.S., and many nominated Tactical Flight Officers for the award, according to the release.

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