Charles “Bud” Meeks Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award

The Charles "Bud" Meeks Award for Deputy Sheriff of the Year was established to recognize deputy sheriffs who have demonstrated conspicuous bravery in the performance of their duties. There is one awarded for merit and one for valor.

2021 Charles “Bud” Meeks Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Valor Award

Deputy Brennan Flory
Grant Parish Sheriff's Office, LA

Nominated by:
Sheriff Steven McCain
Grant Parish Sheriff's Office (LA)

I would like to nominate a Deputy Sheriff for the Medal of Valor and/or the Deputy Sheriff of the Year. Below is information regarding the heroic actions that he took.

On April 19, 2020, Grant Parish Sheriff’s Deputy Brennan Flory was stopped by a passing motorist and told of a possible building that was on fire north of Pollock, La.

Deputy Flory responded and found a home to be fully engulfed in flames. Deputy Flory ran around the house and could hear the moaning of someone. He discovered a woman lying in the threshold of a door and partially on a porch.

With no regard for his own safety, Deputy Flory pulled the woman away from the burning house. Another passing motorist stopped and helped Deputy Flory to continue to pull the woman away from the flames to safety.

Denise Brooks received 3rd degree burns to 80% of her body, but doctors believe that she will survive.

Without the brave interaction from Deputy Flory, I am convinced that she would have not survived the fire.

2021 Charles “Bud” Meeks Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Valor Award

Deputy Kyle Robinson
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (FL)

Nominated by:
Sheriff Mike Prendergast
Citrus County Sheriff’s Office (FL)

It is with great humility that I nominate Deputy Kyle Robinson. Deputy Robinson's sustained superior performance of outstanding efforts consistently exceed the standards by which excellence is measured.

I am proud to serve alongside him as his Sheriff and hope you choose to recognize him with the Purple Heart Award.

On February 29, 2020, Deputy Kyle Robinson responded to a call for service where a subject was inside the Family Dollar Store in Crystal River, bleeding from his arm and banging on the door. The subject was harassing and scaring customers and the store clerk requested the subject be removed and trespassed from the premises. Upon Deputy Robinson's arrival, he observed the subject on the sidewalk bleeding profusely from a wound on his elbow. Deputy Robinson immediately began trying to establish a dialogue with the subject, offering him first aid and medical attention to assist with the bleeding. It was apparent the subject was having a mental episode, making irrational biblical statements, and stating that he wanted to meet God.

While informing the subject that he was there to help, Deputy Robinson noticed the subject beginning to walk towards traffic. During his attempt to prevent the subject from entering the roadway, the individual suddenly turned and initiated an unprovoked attack by repeatedly punching Deputy Robinson in the head, stating he was going to kill him. Realizing the severity of the situation, Deputy Robinson began reaching for his agency issued equipment in an attempt to stop the subject's brutal attack. Deputy Robinson deployed his taser twice, which was unsuccessful. In a failed attempt, the subject tried to take the taser from Deputy Robinson, who was able to maintain control and re-secure the taser, grabbing his baton.

The subject, who continued striking Deputy Robinson in the head, still refused to comply with lawful instructions by continuously yelling that he would kill him. After multiple strikes to the subject s leg with the baton and having no affect at all, Deputy Robinson felt an unknown blunt object strike his head. This caused him to lose consciousness for a few moments. Upon regaining consciousness, Deputy Robinson found himself on the ground with the subject on top of him continuing his brutal attack.

Coming to the realization that his own life was in jeopardy, and the now dire threat posed by the subject to the surrounding citizens, Deputy Robinson reached for his issued firearm. The subject, still on top of Deputy Robinson, attempted to gain control of the gun by grabbing his hand while retrieving the weapon. Not wanting to lose control of his firearm to the subject and realizing that he was not going to be able to maintain full control of the gun, Deputy Robinson re-secured his firearm and again began hand to hand combat with the subject wherein he ultimately gained control of the situation.

Throughout this altercation, Deputy Robinson never gave up defending himself and protecting his community against an unprovoked attack from a subject that was in ah altered state of mind. Even after he regained consciousness, Deputy Robinson immediately realized the severity of the situation and was able to utilize training tactics to ensure the safety of himself, the subject and the citizens gathered around. It is without doubt that without the physical and mental fortitude shown by Deputy Robinson during this attack on his person, and the clear immediate threat to surrounding bystanders posed by this subject, the outcome of this event could have been drastically different. The subject was arrested and charged with Attempted First-Degree Murder of Law Enforcement Officer, Depriving an Officer of Means of Protection or Communication, Attempted Depriving an Officer of Means of Protection or Communication and Resist Law Enforcement Officer with Violence. Deputy Robinson was treated for his injuries and has since returned to his duties as a Deputy Sheriff.

2020 Charles “Bud” Meeks Deputy Sheriff of the Year for Merit Award

Deputy Andrew Vitalis
Polk County Sheriff’s Office (WI)

Nominated by:
Sheriff Brent Waak
Polk County Sheriff’s Office (WI)

I am nominating Deputy Andrew Vitalis for the Charles "Bud" Meeks award for Deputy Sheriff of the Year-Merit for his work in solving a cold case through innovation. Back in January of 2014, (7 years ago) Polk County had a double fatality hit-and-run incident at the Round Lake Community. Round Lake is the Native American reservation within Polk County. Two men, Richard Cobenais and Benjamin Juarez were struck and killed. The suspect vehicle was a ford F-150. Since 2014, Deputies and Tribal Police worked constantly trying to locate and identify the person responsible for this tragedy. In January of 2020, Deputy Vitalis, who is assigned to investigations, came up with the idea to produce a video to release to the media and social media outlets profiling this case. To capture the raw emotions of the victims’ families. Investigator Vitalis hoped to bring more attention to this case and cast a wider net beyond our local media. Investigator Vitalis has a background in news media, previously working in California for a major news outlet.

Polk County Sheriff's Office along with the St. Croix tribal police split the bill to hire a producer to assist in making the video. Investigator Vitalis spent hours shooting and editing this video. Vitalis is the narrator in the video. I will attach a link at the end to view this final product.

A press conference at the end of January 2020 was set up and we had all the Minneapolis news outlets come up to cover this story. We had family members of the victims present to meet with those new networks. We got our message out to a large area. Polk County is in Wisconsin but is a border county to Minnesota. We are only 45 minutes from Minneapolis, MN.

In September, a tip came in that the person responsible had confided in someone that he saw this news story and it has been bothering him. Our plea for humanity had worked. Investigator Vitalis and our team of investigators ran down this lead. Spending time living out of a hotel on the road in an area south of the metro, about 1.5 hours from Polk County, Vitalis had identified the driver of the vehicle that struck and killed the victims. Vitalis located a witness that was a passenger in the vehicle. He also tracked down the actual vehicle that was used in this tragic case. On October 21st, an arrest of the suspect was made. Vitalis got to share this news later in the afternoon on the 21st with the victims’ families; this is a moment I will never forget in my career. To see the emotion and reaction for these loved ones was so powerful.

On October 22nd, a press conference to share our great news occurred. This showed the community that law enforcement never gives up. Vitalis's efforts to solve this case built a stronger relationship with the community and tribal law enforcement. The healing process for the victims’ families and our community could begin.

For Investigator Vitalis's perseverance and innovation to produce the video that moved this case forward, I nominate him for Deputy Sheriff of the Year, Merit.

Video link:

Previous Winners

2020: VALOR - Undercover Detective - Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, FL; MERIT - Deputy John Curcio (Homicide Detective) - Broward County Sheriff's Office, FL; and Deputy Ross Jessop - Missoula County Sheriff's Office, MT

2019: VALOR - Deputy Robert Kunze III - Sedgwick County, KS (posthumously); MERIT - Sr. Deputy First Class Richard Dean - Harford County, MD; and Det. Cheryl Patty - Dane County, WI

2018 Deputy Terry Harper - Hamilton County, Ohio

2017 Deputy Sheriff Brian Martin, Reserve Sergeant Robert Knight and Sergeant Fred Westerberg - Orange County, FL

2016 Deputies Collin Walfehukl and Christopher Smith - Leon County, FL

2015 Deputy Michael Norris & Deputy Jeff Wilson - Monroe County, GA

2015 Deputy John McCulloch - Franklin County, PA

2014 Deputy William Dunford - San Diego County, CA

2014 Det. John P. Bourque - Kennebec County, ME

2013 Detective Matthew C. Hanlin - Clay County, FL

2012 Deputy Krista McDonald - Kitsap County, WA

2011 Deputy Brandon Moore - Morroe County, OH

2010 Deputy Derek Pope - Alameda County, GA

2009 Dep. Martin Jefferson Lawing - Burke County, NC

2008 Deputy Thomas Meredith - Erie County, NY

2007 Sgt. Gregory J. Rudolph - Wyoming County, NY

2006 Deputy Wayne Koester - Lake County, FL

2005 Deputy Jennifer Fulford - Orange County, FL

2004 Deputy Jeffrey A. Cooper - Jefferson County, AL

2003 Sgt. Mosholi "Mike" J. Rolls - Marion County, FL

2002 Deputy Sammy Brown - Jessamine County, KY

2001 Deputy Jonathan Potter - Brevard County, FL

2000 Agent James O. Hunt - Robeson County, NC

1999 Lt. Robert Schutt - Ionia County, MI

1998 Eryk Todd Heck - Allen County, ID

1997 Deputy Tod M. Thompson - Loudoun County, VA

1997 Investigator Charles Barton - Loudoun County, VA

1996 Deputy Ernest DiMatteo - Dona Ana County, NM

1996 Deputy Roger Rosenberry - Chesapeake, VA

1995 Lt. Lloyd Prescott - Salt Lake County, UT

1994 Sgt. Rodney Stem - Howard County, MD

1993 Deputy Kevin Sowers - Hillsborough County, FL

1992 Deputy Michael Severen - Polk County, WI

1992 Sheriff Inv. Allen Albee - Burnett County, WI

1991 Deputy Devin South - Crisp County, WI

1990 Capt. David Osborne - Daviess County, KY

1988 Sgt. James Wilkerson - Orange County, FL

1987 Sgt. Michael Graves - St. Lucie County, FL

1986 Lt. Jerry Agnew - Pulaski County, AR

1985 Deputy Roy Wrightam - Lake County, FL