PRICE, UTAH (ABC4 UTAH) "I can call on him for anything. And he helps me out anytime I need him." "I've been a drug addict since I was 15 - I'm now 38. And yes, they turned my life around." "I didn't like cops before I met them and now I have a totally new respect for cops."
That is Teri Markosek talking about Carbon County Sheriff Jeff Wood and Deputy Cletis Steele.
The Price resident says they saved her life. And she and her mother nominated Wood for Behind the Badge officer profile. So,this week we went to Price and caught up with Sheriff Jeff Wood.
"I was a fire arms instructor. So they sent me off to be a sniper instructor as well." In addition to being a fire arms instructor - Jeff Wood has been a patrol deputy, a drug court deputy, a Utah probation and parole agent and two years ago - he became the Carbon County's Sheriff.
"I think it better prepared me to be sheriff. Now dealing with more the administrative things - I understand the road cops perspective. I understand the agent and adult probation perspective. Helps me understand the inmate in the jail perspective a little better. I think it has been a good journey a long the way to get to where I'm at."
The perspective, maturity and experience is a long way from young man who paid his own way through the academy and started working in Carbon County 24 years ago. "I came to work in my brand new pressed uniform and excited to be here and couldn't wait to go out and fight crime and I didn't do that. I was in the office. I was doing paper work. I was learning things. And I went home still excited, but kind of disappointed I didn't save the world that day. "
But that would quickly change. Late at night in Helper. "The officer was assaulted. I chased the bad guy around for about two hours. A lot of officers were called out. We finally captured him. He was extremely out of his mind." That happened soon after he started his first solo overnight shifts.
Then there was the incident at this Price apartment complex. "I was actually wrestling with this guy and he tried to stab me and the deputy shot him." Another close call happened in the backyard of a Price home with his friend and fellow lawmen Cletis Steele. "We went to knock on the door of the RV and he started shooting at us through the door and through window. And at one point Deputy Cletis Steele and I were front of the RV. And he was shooting at the windshield though it trying to hit us and we were huddled up next to one another - haha - hoping we didn't get shot." I asked him how scared he was at that moment. His response. "As terrified as you can get." Then he laughed. Then he said "That was quite harry."
Eventually they arrested the man involved and he was convicted and sentenced to 40 years in jail. Five years later - Wood was elected Sheriff and traded those dangerous duties for more administrative duties.
Still, after two decades of service in Carbon County, Wood says his love for police work hasn't changed. "It's still exciting to me. I still love coming to work everyday. I still want to be hands on as much as I can be." "I haven't got to enter buildings with the SWAT team on calls since I became the Sheriff, but I am right there with them when they're there. So, that's part of it I kind of miss - but still excited to come to work everyday."
WEB EXTRA: Sheriff Wood Talks more about being shot at and talks about what makes the vast majority of law enforcement officers so great.
"The dedicated police officers in the community are the good ones. They are the ones not doing anything they shouldn't be doing. They are the ones out all night when everyone else in home in bed. They're the ones that really should be recognized and they don't want to be recognized. They're the silent workforce that keeps the machine running all the time."
"We told him to come out. He said no. So, it was a tense moment. Then he started shooting through the door. So the RV was a flat nose so he was right up by the window as close as he could get trying to shoot us and we were at the front. We were as close to the RV as we could get so he didn't have an angle on us. On a level of scared? As terrified as you can get. Hahahaha. He laughs. Ha.ha.ha. That was quite harry." "My wife was calling me. So I shut it off. So, my wife is kind of fiery and she called right back. I said hey, I'm being shot at can I call you in a minute?"
To nominate an officer for a future story - visit: http://www.good4utah.com/badge
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