The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) will honor Muskingum County (Ohio) Sheriff Matt Lutz for his handling of the escape of 56 wild animals from an Ohio man's 46-acre farm in October.
Lutz was nominated by county commissioners along with Sue Culbertson, clerk to the commissioners, and deputy clerks Susan Reese and Anita Heckel.
"What we admired most about Lutz was he had a situation that probably no other law enforcement officer would ever have to face and in a very short time he addressed it," Akers told the Zanesville Times Recorder. "It was a risk to himself and his officers. None of them had ever had to do something like that before, and they all handled themselves professionally and put public safety first."
Lutz dealt swiftly with a rapidly evolving situation on Oct. 18, after Terry Thompson opened the cages at his wild animal farm. Deputies responding to the scene used police sidearms and then patrol rifles to hunt and kill 49 of the animals, including Bengal tigers, grizzly bears, monkeys, and wolves.
After mobilizing his deputies, Sheriff Lutz held a series of press conferences, giving updates and explaining that his decision to kill the animals was a matter of public safety.
Commissioners also credited Sheriff Lutz for working with school officials to close schools, informing area property owners, and coordinating response with the zoo, the Wilds, and other law enforcement agencies.
By Paul Clinton