The Indian Country Officer of the Year Award provides international recognition of police officers that demonstrated exceptional valor in service to the people of Indian Country, thereby exhibiting the highest traditions of law enforcement. Chief David Lawrence of the Bureau of Indian Affairs was recognized as the 2013 Indian Country Officer of the Year. Chief Lawrence has served as an officer in Indian Country for more than 18 years, spending much of that time working complex cases involving murder, kidnapping, sexual assaults, and child abuse on the Standing Rock Sioux Indian Reservation in North and South Dakota. He has been an important teacher to new special agents and assistant U.S. attorneys, helping them to become culturally sensitive to the art of investigating major crimes in Indian Country.
Recently, Chief Lawrence courageously risked his life to try to save a disabled young adult from a residential house fire. While he was in McLaughlin, SD, on other law enforcement duties, he monitored a radio call for assistance to a house fire in McLaughlin. He traveled to the call and was one of the first responders to the scene. After talking to a resident of the household, he learned that her mentally and physically disabled son was still in the house which by now was engulfed in flames and smoke. He broke the window in the room where the young man was thought to be located and entered the residence in an attempt to save him. In the first attempt Chief Lawrence could not locate the victim and had to retreat out of the house before he was overcome by smoke. Undeterred, he made a second entry into the smoke-filled bedroom where he was able to locate the victim and remove him from the burning residence. Despite his heroic efforts to rescue the young man from the house, the victim suffered severe smoke inhalation and died as a result.
Darren Cruzan, Director of the Bureau of Indian Affairs Office of Justice Services, and Joseph LaPorte, Chairman of the IACP Indian Country Law Enforcement Section, presented the Indian Country Officer of the Year Award and honorary quilt to Chief Lawrence during a banquet at the Las Vegas Paiute Tribe Resort in connection with the Indian Country Law Enforcement Section’s Mid-year Meeting.
Nominations for the 2014 Indian Country Officer of the Year can be downloaded here.
Click here to learn more about the award and the IACP Indian Country Law Enforcement Section.