Deputy of the Year

2016 Charles “Bud” Meeks Valor Award for Deputy Sheriff of the Year

Deputy Collin Walfehukl & Deputy Christopher Smith

Leon County, Florida

Deputy Christopher Smith and Deputy Colin Wulfekuhl showed heroism and courage beyond words with Deputy Smith making the ultimate sacrifice in a planned ambush on first responders on November 22, 2014.

On Saturday, November 22, 2014, the Consolidate Dispatch Agency received a call in reference to a fire on Caracus Court. Leon County Deputy Christopher Smith and Deputy Collin Wulfekuhl were the responding units to assist the Tallahassee Fire Department. 

Deputy Smith was the first to arrive, observing flames coming from the house. He exited his vehicle to assist and was met with gunfire from the suspect who started the fire as bait for his plan of killing first responders. Without warning and almost immediately after exiting his vehicle, he was fired upon by the suspect and struck several times; killed before he had a chance to defend himself. 

Deputy Wulfekuhl, having seen his shift partner gunned down, immediately engaged in an active gunfight with an active shooter whose intent that day was to kill as many first responders as he could. 

Members of the Tallahassee Fire Department (TFD) arrived on scene, unaware of the gun battle. Their engine trucks took rounds from the suspect while Deputy Wulfekuhl shouted for them to get back. This prevented any injuries or fatalities to the members of the TFD. As the fire fighters retreated to cover, Deputy Wulfekuhl exchanged gunfire with the suspect as he sought cover. While taking cover he was struck by one of the suspect’s bullets on his spine, luckily he was wearing his bulletproof vest, which neutralized the fatal shot.

There could have been more lives lost on November 22, 2014, if these deputy sheriffs had not acted. 


2016 Charles “Bud” Meeks Merit Award for Deputy Sheriff of the Year

Deputy Ronald Cherry

Harris County, Texas

Deputy Ronald “Ron” E. Cherry, began his career with the Harris County Sheriff’s Officer on November 5, 1985. Since then Deputy Cherry has worked exclusively in the Justice Management Bureau and has been assigned as an Administrative Deputy and Liaison to the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Courts and District Clerks’ Office for the duration of his career. 

Deputy Cherry has obtained a wealth of information concerning all daily operation within the Criminal Justice Bureau. The many professional relationships he has developed and his personal knowledge and hospitable personality has made him the go to person for the processing of all paperwork in the criminal justice process and he is regularly called upon to assist the courts and other agencies in expediting transactions of inmates into or out of the Harris County jail system. 

Deputy Cherry is a professional who exemplifies the very essence of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office core values whereby he merits and maintains the public trust, embraces and delivers professional service, protects our citizens with honor and courage, exemplifies ethical conduct at all times, and develops, encourages, and cares for his sheriff’s office family daily. 

Deputy Cherry never leaves others to fend for themselves and always gives a sense of calm while assisting others in order to bring situation that may have started heated to a much better resolution. He generously makes time for others even when he doesn’t have one minute to spare between meetings or before making a report deadline. 

One example of how Deputy Cherry protects citizens with honor and courage, would be when a man walked into the bonding lobby in the building and advised another employee he and his wife argued earlier in the day and he believed her to be dead. Before deputies could make it to the lobby, the man walked to the back of the building and into a restroom and out of view. Deputy Cherry came to have knowledge of this male and that the male had left the lobby. He went to investigate and being thorough conducted a search of the area, which led him to the restroom, where he located the male. Deputy Cherry’s actions resulted in the male later being charged with the murder of his spouse. 

Deputy Cherry’s conduct is always professional and ethical. He mentors all he comes in contact with assuming the role of an active listener. He is a natural teacher and as anyone who knows him can attest, will take time to make sure you fully understand, and if you will listen he will share his knowledge with you in a way that is educational and informative, but never demeaning or belittling. Deputy Cherry has played a significant role in the creation of many inmate programs and databases currently in use by the sheriff’s office and his contributions have made for a more efficient overall operation. 

Deputy Cherry is a man who has overcome extreme hardships and allowed them to mold him into a spiritually, physically, and mentally strong gentleman who is, respectable, caring, and considerate. Deputy Chery genuinely cares for those he works with daily in and out of the sheriff’s office.

The Charles "Bud" Meeks Award for Deputy Sheriff of the Year was established to recognize deputy sheriffs who have demonstrated conspicuous bravery in the performance of their duties. The award is given in memory and honor of Charles "Bud" Meeks, who served as executive director of the National Sheriffs' Association from 1989 to 1997 and in 2000. This award is sponsored by Motorola, Inc.


Previous Winners

1985 Deputy Roy Wrightam - Lake County, FL

1986 Lt. Jerry Agnew - Pulaski County, AR

1987 Sgt. Michael Graves - St. Lucie County, FL

1988 Sgt. James Wilkerson - Orange County, FL

1990 Capt. David Osborne - Daviess County, KY

1991  Deputy Devin South - Crisp County, WI

1992 Sheriff Inv. Allen Albee - Burnett County, WI

1992 Deputy Michael Severen - Polk County, WI

1993 Deputy Kevin Sowers - Hillsborough County, FL

1994 Sgt. Rodney Stem - Howard County, MD

1995 Lt. Lloyd Prescott - Salt Lake County, UT

1996 Deputy Ernest DiMatteo - Dona Ana County, NM

1996 Deputy Roger Rosenberry - Chesapeake, VA

1997 Investigator Charles Barton - Loudoun County, VA

1997 Deputy Tod M. Thompson - Loudoun County, VA

1998 Eeyk Todd Heck - Allen County, ID

1999 Lt. Robert Schutt - Ionia County, MI

2000 Agent James O. Hunt - Robeson County, NC

2001 Deputy Jonathan Potter - Brevard County, FL

2002 Deputy Sammy Brown - Jessamine County, KY

2003 Sgt. Mosholi "Mike" J. Rolls - Marion County, FL

2004 Deputy Jeffrey A. Cooper - Jefferson County, AL

2005 Deputy Jennifer Fulford - Orange County, FL

2006 Deputy Wayne Koester - Lake County, FL

2007 Sgt. Gregory J. Rudolph - Wyoming County, NY

2008 Deputy Thomas Meredith - Erie County, NY

2009 Dep. Martin Jefferson Lawing - Burke County, NC

2010 Deputy Derek Pope - Alameda County, GA

2011 Deputy Brandon Moore - Morroe County, OH

2012 Deputy Krista McDonald - Kitsap County, WA

2013 Detective Matthew C. Hanlin - Clay County, FL

2014 Deputy William Dunford - San Diego County, CA

2014 Det. John P. Bourque - Kennebec County, ME

2015 Deputy Michael Norris & Deputy Jeff Wilson - Monroe County, GA

2015 Deputy John McCulloch - Franklin County, PA