MADERA – Sergeant Mike Pace of the Madera County Sheriff’s Office was honored on Thursday with the Purple Heart during a special ceremony to swear in new hires and promotions at the Sheriff’s Headquarters in Madera.
Sgt. Pace was shot during an hours-long standoff at a home near Madera on Nov. 11, 2018, that began as a domestic disturbance – often the most dangerous type of call to which a law enforcement officer can respond.
On the night of the incident, the female caller involved was on the phone with Madera Sheriff’s dispatch, and the male could be heard in the background saying that he was going to “kill the officer.”
After Sgt. Pace arrived on scene, both the male and female subjects came out of the house. The man initially had his hands up, appearing to be ready to cooperate, but suddenly reached into his waistband, pulled out a handgun and fired several rounds at Sgt. Pace. One of those rounds stuck Pace in the leg, but he was still able to return fire.
Because of Sgt. Pace’s actions in drawing fire, the woman was able to escape and was rescued by responding units.
Sheriff Jay Varney, who presented Sgt. Pace with the Purple Heart, said the sergeant stayed calm, stayed connected by radio, and continued to lead his deputies until he could be transported by ambulance to a local hospital where he was treated and released.
The suspect continued to fire at law enforcement for several hours and was taken into custody the following day after a long standoff with SWAT.
Sheriff Varney said that his department is in the process of implementing its own awards program, but for this honor they applied to the National Association of Chiefs of Police, a 501(c)c out of Florida which has its own Police Hall of Fame.
The American Police Hall of Fame National Awards Program was started more then 40 years ago to fill the void of recognition for worthy American law enforcement officers. The vast majority of recognition law enforcement officers receive is negative press in the local news. It is not often that their good deeds get noticed and are rarely mentioned. An awards program counteracts this skewed public image and can have long reaching effects. Awards are the best way to make the officer aware that he/she is appreciated and a valuable asset to American society.