Elizabethton police officers receive high honor for ‘courageous actions’

John Thompson • Nov 12, 2012 at 10:40 AM

ELIZABETHTON — Maj. Greg Workman and Officers John Bulla and Trevor Salyer of the Elizabethton Police Department were awarded the Medal of Distinguished Service during Thursday’s meeting of the Elizabethton City Council. The honor is the second-highest medal the department can award.

Police Chief Matt Bailey called the men forward and told the council the medals were being presented for “courageous actions in the line of duty for the purpose of saving or protecting human life, with the knowledge of serious risk of personal injury or death.”

Bailey said the awards were presented for the actions of Aug. 13, which Bailey had witnessed and described in detail.

The officers responded to a call about an armed man who was threatening to harm himself on East H Street. When Bailey arrived, he saw Workman, then a captain, and Bulla and Salyer had taken cover behind a full-size pickup truck parked in front of the residence. They were trying to establish communication with the man inside the residence.

Shortly after Bailey arrived, he said he saw the man come to the front door. Bailey heard Bulla shout “gun! gun! gun!,” which was exactly what he had been trained to do. The officers called out to other officers that the man had the weapon at his own head. They immediately started telling the man to put the gun down. This alerted other officers on the perimeter that the man had a gun in his hand.

Bailey told the council that Workman, Bulla and Salyer were a very short distance from the armed man. He said they remained calm and continued telling the man to put the gun down. Workman established a rapport with him and finally succeeded in talking the man into putting the gun down. Bailey said when the gun was recovered, it was found to be a large-caliber revolver.

Bailey said his officers “could have very easily neutralized the imminent threat at several different points during the encounter ... but they were courageous enough to continue to talk with the subject in order to save his life and work to resolve this extremely dangerous situation in the best possible way. They risked their own safety to save this troubled subject’s life.”

After the standoff was over, Bailey continued to be impressed with the actions of the three officers. He said they treated the man with respect and professionalism.

“I can say without hesitation that this was some of the best police work I have witnessed in a very long time,” Bailey said.

Following Bailey’s remarks, he called the men forward and he and Mayor Curt Alexander presented them with medals and a plaque to commemorate their honor.

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