Deputy Given National Medal of Valor

Justin Childs, a Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy, has received the National Sheriff’s Association Medal of Valor, an award bestowed upon just six other sheriff’s association officers nationwide.

The honor was presented Monday night in a Kitsap County Commissioners’ meeting.

According to Kitsap County Sheriff’s deputy Scott Wilson, the medal is given “for an act of outstanding personal bravery, intelligently performed, in the line of duty at imminent personal hazard of life.”

Here’s the sheriff’s own words of Childs’ actions, from the June 2006 ceremony in which he received the local sheriff’s office’s medal of valor.

“For extraordinary courage, resourcefulness and initiative, displayed in the face of extreme adverse conditions in the prevention of harm and the saving of life.

During the early daylight hours of February 4, 2006, in the immediate aftermath of the height of a violent storm encompassing the Pacific Northwest, Deputy Justin Childs was on duty as a patrol deputy in North Kitsap. He was advised by radio dispatch of a 42 year-old man who was trapped in a summer cabin located on a rocky beach below the cliffs of President Point Road, Kingston, overlooking Puget Sound.

The climatic conditions at the time included average wind speeds of 40 MPH, with gusts to 70 MPH, combined with excessive rain, high tides, total loss of electrical power and multiple downed trees.

Accompanied by his patrol partner, Deputy Joseph Brown, and firefighter – medics from North Kitsap Fire and Rescue, Deputy Childs descended 700 feet from the cliff top roadway to the beach. There they found that the wood cabin had detached from its foundation due to heavy pounding from high winds and the six-foot surf, and was floating out into Puget Sound.

It was apparent from the initial assessment that the cabin would not stay afloat long, as water filled the interior spaces. The man was standing on the cabin’s porch, already waist deep in water, and unable to move.
Realizing that to wait for waterborne rescue would cost precious time and almost guarantee the man’s death hypothermia and/or drowning, Deputy Childs tethered himself to a 100 foot rope and waded out into the raging waters. The danger to both Deputy Childs and the victim was not only the extremely harsh environmental aspects, but also the number and size of driftwood, tree trunks and flotsam and jetsam in the water pounding the shoreline, the cliffs and the cabin.

Not quite at the cabin and battling the floating debris, wind and surf, Deputy Childs reached the end of his lifeline. With continued disregard for his safety, Deputy Childs continued his progress towards the cabin until he was close enough to make verbal contact with the stranded man and convinced him to enter the water.

Hampered by his loss of strength due to wind chill, the man panicked and struggled to keep his head above water. He grabbed onto Deputy Childs pushing him under the surface. Deputy Childs was able to break free, gain physical control of the victim in the water, then swam and dragged the victim over and around the floating debris until he was close enough to the shoreline where Deputy Brown and the medics pulled the two onto the beach.

The victim was treated by medical personnel and recovered.

Deputy Childs decontaminated at Fire Station 81, changed into a dry uniform and returned to duty.

These actions reflect great credit upon himself, the patrol division of the Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the law enforcement profession.”

2 thoughts on “Deputy Given National Medal of Valor

  1. A well deserved tribute to a well deserving deputy who I have seen grow up and become the “people” person Kitsap County should be very proud of—-T

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