Officer Rich Pruitt
21 Years On
Current: Firearms Instructor
The Miller Community Center shooting was my big incident. I got the Medal of Honor and the Medal of Valor. I was just doing my job. I think if you ask people who get these awards, it’s probably the same thing for most.
I’ve been in the honor guard for about 15 years, so I’ve been to a lot of award ceremonies. You always congratulate the people and you always hear them say, “No big deal.” You never think of yourself as a hero. Everyone else thinks you are, but you don’t. And then I was one being honored. I thought, I’m not a hero. I don’t want to get this award.
Most officers do things on a daily basis they should be awarded for and never are. Like getting to somebody’s house and saving a life, or a car accident where they pull somebody out. I just happened to be working that morning. A lot of it’s fate. Once you’re handed that, how do you react, I guess is the question.
In the honor guard you also go to a lot of funerals. One of my proudest moments in the honor guard was the memorial for Tim Brenton. I was one of the officers who folded the flag for Tim. For us, folding that flag is a sign of respect and doing it right meant a lot. I took that as a great honor. I ended up doing the funeral in Lakewood, too.
During those times, you see the good come out in people. I remember the first police funeral I went to. I wasn’t in the honor guard, but I went in the procession. People were lining the street. It was kids with flags and older people saluting. I thought, where are all these people on a daily basis? I mean, they’re here, you just don’t get to hear or see them. It was heartwarming. Unfortunately, what it took to see that was not.