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Sheriff Larry Lane hands out annual awards and discusses past four years; states he is "blessed"

Sequoyah County Sheriff Larry Lane (left) presented Sonny Jasna

with the Deputy of the Year award at their annual awards banquet.

Thursday, December 16, 2021 - The Sequoyah County Sheriff’s Office held their annual awards banquet on December 10 in Sallisaw.

Sequoyah County Sheriff Larry Lane said, "I am so blessed to have so many supporters from all over the county that help sponsor our banquet and dinner to recognize the great work being done by our employees in what has become a very difficult profession to be in."

Sheriff Lane has held this banquet and dinner every year since taking office in 2017. "It has grown every year and has become a really great event. This year we had about 120 people present," Lane stated.

Sheriff Larry presented Daniel Whitus (left) with the Reserve Deputy of the Year award

and Faith Johnson (right) with the Dispatcher of the Year award.

Sherriff Lane presented the Detention Officer of the Year award to Kodee Gullick (left)

and the Sheriff's Star Award to Justin Smithson (right)

Sheriff Lane presented Bruce Ainsworth (left) with the Employee of the Year award and K.D Graham (right) with the School Resource Officer of the Year award.

Not pictured is Investigator of the Year Cindy Smith.

All of this year's awards, except the Sheriff’s Star Award, were voted on by Sheriff’s Office employees making it a true honor to be selected, according to Sheriff Lane. Each deputy was chosen by their peers and co-workers as the most valuable for their particular position.

"The Sheriff’s Star award is one that I started a few years ago. I choose a deputy or investigator that best represents our department in a positive and professional manner. In our profession, we rarely get compliments or "atta boys" from the public. Normally, the only calls or letters we get are when a citizen wants to complain about a deputy or employee. However, there are a few that call me when they’ve had positive interactions with one of our deputies, and this year, Deputy Smithson had the most compliments from citizens about how pleased they were with his handling of their particular situations," Lane stated.

Lane added that in the past four years, the department has grown in many ways. "We have added an extra deputy per shift and been able to give two pay raises to deputies and three raises to our jailers. We have completely replaced all nine of the HVAC units in the sheriff’s office and jail; replaced all of the worn out and broken appliances in the jail kitchen; installed all new cameras and computer equipment in the jail; purchased a new fingerprint machine; and purchased all new uniforms and new patrol units for all of the deputies."

Lane said that even after all those expenses, the sheriff's department still has over twice as much money in their accounts as there has ever been. "We also built our own maintenance shop where we do all of our own vehicle maintenance, such as oil changes, brakes, and tire service, as well as installing all of our own emergency equipment on the patrol vehicles. This maintenance shop alone has saved us about $6,000 per unit per year, and with these savings, we are able to purchase one extra new unit per year.

"I’m just so proud of all of our employees for continually standing by me personally, through all of the many adversities and tragedies I have endured in the last four years. They just keep working their tails off to make our sheriff’s office better, "Lane stated. "Besides the everyday crimes we deal with, over the last four years I have dealt with five officer-involved shootings, one of which was my own, where I had to take someone’s life. I’ve had to deal with my own dad being murdered, my mom dying from cancer, and losing one of my best friends and employees because of an arrest I was forced to make. I've dealt with several deputies injured in the line of duty, responding to a tragic 500-year flood, several tornadoes, one of which hit my house, a major train derailment, lawsuits, COVID, and McGirt, just to name a few."

"I have truly been tested in these last 4 years, but by the grace of God and my great employees, who continually lift me back up, we will continue to grow and move forward. I am truly blessed," Sheriff Lane stated.

Sheriff Lane would like to thank the following sponsors for making this year’s banquet possible: Armstrong Bank, Forever Memories Funeral Home, Firstar Bank, Victory Pawn & Gun, Rocky’s Corner Pawn & Gun, Bobby Long & Rosa Scott, SCA Title & Abstract, Zoom Bonding, Merrill Bonding, Simon’s Ace Hardware, Subway in Roland, Roland Ace Hardware, Roma’s Italian Restaurant, Glory Prom Dresses, Sallisaw Lumber, Phillip Green LLC, Cato Creek Cattle Co., Akins BBQ, Fourth Scoufus Law Offices, Sullivan & Sullivan Law Office, Tractor Supply, DIGI Solutions and Sequoyah County Commissioners: Ray Watts, Jim Rogers, Beau Burlison as well as numerous other individual donors

Lindsie Dyer, Staff Writer

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