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Salt Lake City 'hero' officer up for national award

By Alex Cabrero | Posted - Apr. 2, 2011 at 10:50 p.m.


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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Salt Lake City police officer credited with stopping a heavily-armed man last summer is now a nominee for a national award, but he needs your help to get it.

Officer Uppsen Downes is a nominee for "America's Most Wanted" All-Star. Downes is being called a hero for his actions outside the Grand America Hotel in August.

Brandon Barrett, who served in the U.S. Army in Afghanistan, was dressed in full combat gear -- including body armor issued by his base, a helmet, an assault rifle, two handguns and armed with more than 1,000 rounds of ammunition -- when he opened fire on Aug. 27, 2010, spraying bullets that hit several vehicles.

Downes was struck in the left calf as he herded an unarmed hotel security guard behind his patrol car. He fired back three times from 75 feet away, one fatal shot hitting Barrett in the side of the head.

Investigators say Downes' actions most likely saved more people from getting hurt.

Downes has won several local awards and received state recognition for his actions. He says it's an honor to be considered for a national ward.

"It's huge, just being recognized and someone feeling like I deserve it," he said. "I'm so thankful."

Voting for the award is done online at the America's Most Wanted website . Voting for "first responder of the week" ends at midnight, but you have another week to vote for the program's annual all-star.

Five other Utahns are nominated this year. Shauna Burrows, an EMT for Gold Cross Ambulance in Salt Lake City, is up for the award.

Also nominated, Rich County Sheriff Dale Stacey, who joined the Rich County Sheriff's Office in 1992 and served as a deputy for six years before he was elected sheriff. He was heavily involved in the process of identifying a body found in a remote part of the county that was determined to have been there for 16 years.

In addition, Stacey teaches free community classes for parents -- teaching them about the signs of kids using drugs, suicide and teen drinking.

West Valley City Police Det. Jerry Randall is also up for the award. Randall has been in law enforcement for 20 years. He's served as a SWAT member, a school rescue officer, and received the Medal of Honor for rescuing a quadriplegic from a house fire.

Randall helped foil a Columbine-like plan at a local high school -- potentially saving lives. He is known for being dedicated to the students he serves.

Also nominated, Millard County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff Whatcott. Whatcott has been with the Millard County Sheriff's Office for more than 27 years. He's been directly involved in curtailing drug smuggling in and around his city.

He serves on a multi-county drug task force and has participated in multiple illegal drug busts, including one where more than 2,300 pounds of marijuana was confiscated.

Utah State Park Ranger Brody Young -- who was shot outside of Moab last November -- is the final Utahn in the running.

Young was shot after police say he encountered Lance Leeroy Arrellano while approaching the man in his car to tell him he was in a no-camping area. When Young went to verify the name and date of birth he was given by Arrellano, he was shot numerous times in the back.

Police initiated a massive manhunt for Arellano, but he has not yet been located.

E-mail: acabrero@ksl.com

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