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  • Writer's pictureMichelle

Firefighter and Police Officer of the Year

Every year, the Utah Valley Exchange Club accepts nominations from cities in the county for a Firefighter and Police Officer who deserve to be honored for their exemplary efforts in contributing to the community, going beyond the call of duty in their position, and for receiving advanced training. This year, the selected nominee for the Firefighter of the Year and the Police Officer of the Year were both from Provo.

Captain Justin Headman

Chief Jim Miguel nominated Captain Justin Headman. Captain Headman is a 25 year Veteran of the Provo Fire Department, and continues to make a significant difference in the department and community. Justin is a strong leader and outstanding firefighter. He has taken on many significant projects and programs to ensure the department is ready to serve the community. He is responsible for hose maintenance and purchasing, a project that is never ending. Provo fire has approximately 15,000 feet of fire hose that must be tested and maintained each year.

Over the last three years, Captain Headman has been the project manager on our fleet replacement program. He has led the design, purchase and placing into service two fire engines, two ladder trucks and a heavy rescue. The total investment in this apparatus exceeds $5.5 million. He has committed hundreds of hours, on and off duty, to ensure this fire apparatus meets the needs of the department and community, and will care for our apparatus needs for decades.

Sgt. Sean Ellefsen

Deputy Chief John Geyerman nominated Sgt. Sean Ellefsen. On January 5, 2019 Provo Police Master Officer Joseph Shinners was tragically shot and killed in the line of duty. Master Officer Shinners was part of a graveyard patrol shift that had grown very close after working together for an extended period of time. Needless to say his death was very hard on his fellow officers as they were not only co-workers but many had become close friends.

Sergeant Sean Ellefsen was the supervisor of this shift. In the days, weeks and months that followed Master Officer Shinners death Sergeant Ellefsen was faced with the task of leading these officers. Sergeant Ellefsen found himself in one of the most difficult leadership challenges a leader can face. Sergeant Ellefsen was both a supervisor and a friend of Master Officer Shinners, not only did he need to deal with his own grief but he found himself needing to guide young officers through grief, self-doubt and anxiety. Sergeant Ellesfsen exhibited true leadership characteristics in doing so. He demonstrated courage, empathy, compassion and honesty with these young officers all while trying to heal himself. It has now been eight months since the death of Master Officer Shinners. Sergeant Ellefsen continues to be an example, mentor and leader to these officers.

The healing process for Sergeant Ellefsen and these officers will be ongoing but Sergeant Ellefsen’s leadership and example make it much more likely these officers will heal and go on to have productive lives and careers as officers. It not only benefits the officers themselves but makes them much more effective to the community they have sworn to serve.

Utah Valley Exchange Club

The Utah Valley Exchange Club also recognized Master Officer Shinners by presenting his family with the Police Officer of the Year award which was accepted in behalf of the family by Chief Fergusen.

The National Exchange Club has been participating in fire and crime prevention efforts since the 1940s and continue to realize their importance. Exchange’s crime and fire prevention programs have been endorsed by many U.S. Presidents, as well as many of the nation’s leading law enforcement officials.

The National Exchange Club is an all-volunteer, national service organization for men and women who want to serve their community, develop leadership skills, and enjoy new friendships. Made up of nearly 800 clubs and more than 25,000 members throughout the United States and Puerto Rico, The National Exchange Club is working to make America a better place to live through one national project, the Prevention of Child Abuse. To date, The National Exchange Club’s efforts have helped more than 100,000 families and 140,000 children break the cycle of child abuse. The National Exchange Club’s goal is to become the premier service club in America by igniting the spirit of community service throughout the nation.

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