Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Lawrence’s actions with the department were honored on Nov. 14 by the Kansas Sheriff’s Association.

Butler County Sheriff’s Deputy Jacob Lawrence’s actions with the department were honored on Nov. 14 by the Kansas Sheriff’s Association.

Lawrence was one of two deputies to be named Sheriff’s Deputy of the Year by the association.

“It was a great honor knowing there were only two deputies in the state of Kansas honored,” he said. “I felt very honored representing the sheriff’s offices around the state. There are a lot of great agencies and deputies out there capable of being honored to get an award as much as I am.”

Lawrence is the son of school teachers and at an early age learned education and hard work are essential. After graduating from Fort Scott High School, he attended Mid America Nazarene University, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice.

“I’ve always been interested in it (law enforcement) somewhat,” Lawrence said.

He said it was after taking his first criminal justice class he got really interested and pursued it as a major.

“I’ve always been interested in public safety,” he added.

While attending college, Lawrence interned with the Bourbon County Sheriff’s Office and spent time riding with Deputy Mark Kase, who made a lasting impression on him.

After graduating from the police academy, Lawrence applied at Butler County and in Salina.

“Through my interview process here I felt comfortable,” he said. “It made my decision very easy and I’ve loved working here ever since.”

That time has included some routine days, as well as some not so routine.

One recent incident occurred on Sept. 2 when Lawrence observed a vehicle pull into a construction company parking lot approximately three miles west of Augusta. Suspecting foul play, he investigated.

The driver identified himself as Jan Tracy Kilbourne and indicated he did not have a valid driver’s license and asked if he could be given a break and switch places with the front seat passenger. Lawrence agreed to this request.

Lawrence also ran checks for warrants on each person in the vehicle and Kilbourne had an expired driver’s license and possible warrant for felony theft.

Lawrence asked numerous questions to each of the passengers. When the vehicle began to drive away, he stopped it and said they were not free to leave yet.

After requesting a narcotic detecting K-9 come to the scene, he returned to the vehicle and as he reached the driver’s side window, Kilbourne leaned across the driver and fired at least one round at him. This struck Lawrence in the upper portion of his ballistic vest, but caused damage to his right clavicle.

Lawrence retreated to his vehicle for cover and radioed he had been shot. Kilbourne ran, but Lawrence covered the other occupants until the Augusta Department of Public Safety and Andover Police Department arrived.

“It was kind of just reaction,” he said of the incident, “and awestruck on top of a huge adrenaline rush because everything happened so quickly. The situation went from under control to out of control in mere instances.”

He said the department had calls from several people checking on how the deputy, his name had not been released yet, was doing.

“I am still getting a lot of support from people,” he said. “We definitely have a great community. I’d like to thank the community of Butler County specifically for their thoughts and prayers.”

He returned to work 30 days after the shooting. For the first few days he rode along with another deputy just to get used to being back out there.

He said at first he was more watchful, but now he is comfortable with everything again.

Still, when people see his sheriff’s badge, without knowing who he is, they will come up and say they are praying for that deputy and the agency.

He was only back at work three days when he was notified of the award.

Looking to the future, Lawrence said, “The only plan I have is to continue my career here with the Sheriff’s Office. It is almost overwhelming feeling the community support and from around the area.

Julie Clements can be reached at jclements@butlercountytimesgazette.com