WASHINGTON CITY – Each year police chiefs and officers from small, medium and large-scale agencies are honored by the Utah Chiefs of Police Association with Officer of the Year awards. Nominees are chosen by the UCPA based on their “exemplary actions” and are recognized “for the good works they perform” in their communities.
This year, the 2013 Officer of the Year for a Small Agency was awarded to Officer Christopher Ray of the Washington City Police Department.
“I don’t think what I’ve done … deserves this recognition,” Ray said. Still, he said he was “very appreciative” of the honor.
Washington City Police Chief Jim Keith was the one responsible for Ray’s nomination. He pointed to two things the officer had done that led the chief to enter his name for consideration by the UCPA.
The first was Ray’s involvement in fostering public safety programs in the community, like the city’s CERT – Community Emergency Response Team – program. “He was instrumental in developing our CERT program,” Keith said.
“It’s fun to educate the community on the program,” Ray said.”Many people have bought into the importance of the program … I’m just doing something I’m passionate about.”
The second reason Keith nominated Ray was for how he handled himself during the police-involved shootout that occurred on July 20, 2012. On that date, police attempted to stop Jamon Val Cranney, 37, of Washington, for a traffic violation. The traffic stop turned into a chase through the Washington Fields area.
Police stopped pursuing Cranney for a time after he entered a residential area. He was soon located by Ray and another officer and pursued. At this point Cranney allegedly fired off several shots at the officers. Officers returned fire.
The pursuit concluded near the intersection of 3650 South and KD-Jo Lane. At some point during the gunfight, Cranney was shot and eventually transported to the hospital in critical condition. He has since recovered and has been charged with two counts of first-degree attempted aggravated murder – for shooting at police – and other charges. Cranney pleaded “not guilty” to the charges and has a jury trial scheduled for early June.
“A shooting is an officer’s worst nightmare,” Ray said, and added he had many things go through his mind while engaged in the gunfight. He fell back on his training and did what he had to do.
He said he was also grateful that he, the other officer involved, and Cranney, all survived the incident.
During the pursuit and gunfight, Keith said Ray used good direction, use of tactics, and precise radio communication. Added together, Ray’s performance helped keep the situation from getting any worse, he said.
“He did a good job overall,” Keith said.
Ray had no idea the police chief had entered him as an award candidate until after the UPCA released the names of nominees and Keith told him he was on the list.
“At first I was shocked,” Ray said. “Though, it’s nice to be recognized for performance.”
Ray was officially named Officer of the Year for a Small Agency on March 27 during UPCA’s annual convention held in St. George.
He was also recognized by Washington City in January for his work with the city’s CERT program.
Ray has over 16 years experience as a law enforcement officer. Before joining the Washington City Police Department upon its formation in 2006, he served with the Washington County Sheriff’s Office and St. George Police Department. He has also served as a deputy sheriff in Arkansas and a 911 dispatcher in Kansas before that.
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