Benton officer recognized for saving child’s life

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Benton Police Chief Charles Pilkinton, right, presented Benton Officer Jeremy Sunderland, left, with the American Police Hall of Fame’s Life Saving Award at the Benton Town Council meeting Monday, Oct. 14. (Courtesy of Benton Police Department)

A Benton Police officer has been recognized for his efforts in saving the life of an infant earlier this year.

Benton Police Chief Charles Pilkinton presented Benton Officer Jeremy Sunderland with the American Police Hall of Fame’s Life Saving Award at the Benton Town Council meeting on Monday, Oct. 14. 

On Aug. 22, Officer Jeremy Sunderland was dispatched to a medical call regarding an 8-month-old child who was choking and not breathing. 

Officer Larry Weaver, who arrived on scene, stated in his report that Sunderland “exited his patrol car and ran and took the infant and began first aid. Officer Sunderland checked the infant’s airway and delivered several palm strikes to the child’s back. After checking the airway again, Officer Sunderland repeated the palm strikes in an attempt to dislodge the obstruction. This was repeated several times.”

Officer Weaver went on to say in the report that the child “gasped and began to cry; the cries began to get louder. It was obvious the obstruction dislodged, and the child was able to breathe better.” 

The child was then handed over to Bossier Parish EMS once they arrived.

Officer Weaver concluded his report by saying, “At first contact with the infant, I saw the baby was not responsive, lethargic and had a blank stare…There is not a doubt in my mind that Officer Sunderland’s quick response and action at the scene saved this infant’s life.”

Hearing of Sunderland’s heroic acts, Chief Pilkinton, nominated Sunderland, a 14-year law enforcement veteran, for the Life Saving Award from the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum.

“Officer Weaver had come to me and told me what had happened and thought that maybe Sunderland needed to be recognized. But with this circumstance, I thought it needed a little bit more then just a ‘Thank you for what you did.’ So, I nominated him to the American Police Hall of Fame & Museum,” Pilkinton said. 

Pilkinton said he did so because he was proud of Sunderland’s actions and that he was able to save a life. 

“He’s a very good police officer. He cares about this town, the people, and it shows. I’m proud to have him here on my team,” Pilkinton said. “I cannot run this town without good police officers. It’s a two way street — we all help each other, we all work together as a team. That’s what makes us such a good police department.”

Echoing Pilkinton’s comments about the heroic acts of Officer Sunderland, Benton Mayor Shelly Horton said that the Town of Benton is proud to have an officer of this caliber on its staff.

“Officer Sunderland’s quick thinking and response saved a precious life. When the situation arose, he provided the skills that made the difference in a life or death situation. The Town of Benton is very proud and honored to have an officer of this caliber on staff. Thanks to Officer Sunderland and all first responders for the service you provide to us on a daily basis,” said Horton.