The Howard County Board of Commissioners this week honored Sgt. Jordan Buckley and fallen Deputy Carl Koontz with Pillar of the Community awards, an idea generated after Buckley nominated Koontz for the county’s employee of the month recognition.

Accepting the award on Koontz’ behalf was his wife, Kassandra Koontz, who was also given her husband’s service weapon in April after an amendment was enacted by the commissioners.  

Following the meeting, Buckley spoke about his decision to nominate Koontz while still on sick leave from the sheriff's department and the distinction of receiving the county award.  

Specifics on how many Pillar of the Community awards have been given could not be obtained, but Commissioner Paul Wyman estimated the county has awarded roughly 10 over the last seven or eight years, the first going to current Howard County Attorney Larry Murrell. 

“It’s definitely an awesome recognition,” said Buckley. “As the commissioners stated, I nominated [Koontz] for employee of the month, because he was well beyond deserving of any recognition that the county can give him by making the ultimate sacrifice. I’m totally honored to be recognized with him.”

For Buckley, however, feelings of apprehension sometimes accompany public recognitions, as he worries about overshadowing Koontz’ lasting impact.

“It’s a double-edged sword almost,” he said. “I appreciate the recognition and the support of the community, there is no doubt about it. But at the same time, I don’t ever want to feel like I would be taking away from Carl’s recognition because he deserves it all.”

During the meeting, Commissioner Tyler Moore explained the process behind honoring the officers and the meaning of the awards.

“Last month, we did receive a nomination from [Buckley] nominating [Koontz] for employee of the month, and obviously that being a continued show of humility and then also honor for Carl,” said Moore.

“We feel that it’s only fitting and both a continued show of honor and appreciation, not only for Carl and Kassie and the sacrifice they’ve made, but for Sgt. Buckley as well…It is only a drop in the bucket of the appreciation that we wish to show and that you guys deserve,” he added later.

Koontz died in the line of duty on March 20 from injuries sustained during a shootout earlier that morning at a Russiaville trailer park.

He was shot by 25-year-old Evan Dorsey, who was wanted on a failure to appear warrant. Koontz suffered a single gunshot wound to his pelvis, and died at IU Health Methodist Hospital in Indianapolis.

During the incident, Buckley suffered a gunshot wound to the upper thigh. 

George Myers can be reached at 765-454-8585, by email at george.myers@kokomotribune.com or on Twitter @gpmyerskt.

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George Myers covers city and county government. He joined the Kokomo Tribune on November 18, 2014.