Chief Steve Anderson and the local chapter of the Theodore Roosevelt Association today announced that Officer John Downs, who was seriously wounded in the line of duty in a shooting just outside of Antioch and was told that he might never walk again, is the 2016 recipient of the Theodore Roosevelt Police Award for Nashville & Middle Tennessee.
Downs, a 20-year MNPD veteran, will be honored during a ceremony Wednesday at noon in the community room of the Hermitage Precinct. Media representatives are invited.
The Theodore Roosevelt Association Police Award is given to a police officer who has rendered outstanding and praiseworthy service to the department and the community despite a serious handicap, illness, or injury.
On the night of December 14, 2014, Officer Downs, a member of the police department’s Special Response Team, was on his way home after working a Tennessee Titans game when he was called to respond to the scene of a barricaded robbery suspect at a condominium on Long Hunter Court. Downs was among the officers who attempted to negotiate with the armed suspect, but was unsuccessful. He was outside near the front door of the condo with other Special Response Team members when the gunman emerged. The suspected robber fired his .40 caliber pistol in the direction of Downs and other officers. Downs was seriously wounded in the hip/groin area and was rushed by his colleagues, who did not wait for an ambulance, to Vanderbilt University Medical Center. He was initially told that he might never walk again. However, after several surgeries, a hip replacement and months of rehabilitation, Downs did walk again and ultimately returned to full duty in the Metro police department, where he is now assigned to the Specialized Investigations Division.
“John Downs’ grit and absolute determination to fully recover from the gunshot wound were amazing and an inspiration to many,” Chief Steve Anderson said. “I remember visiting John in his home, where he was confined to a hospital bed in the living room. It was as clear then as it is now that his dedication to this police department and the citizens of Nashville never wavered.”
The Theodore Roosevelt Association established the police awards program in honor of Roosevelt’s distinguished service as President of the Board of Police Commissioners of New York City from 1895 to 1897, and in recognition of his lifelong admiration for the police.
Nashville is one of several cities in the United States to present the Roosevelt Award. Others include New York City, Metropolitan Washington, D.C., San Diego, Dallas, and Suffolk & Nassau Counties in New York.
Through the generosity of this year’s award sponsor, Rock Solid Roofing Company, a Division of McEwen Home Improvements (RockSolidRoofingTN.com), and the Theodore Roosevelt Association, Officer Downs will receive a $1,000 cash award, a medal, and a bust of Theodore Roosevelt. A bronze plaque, which bears a likeness of Roosevelt, is displayed in the lobby of police headquarters, will now include the inscription of Downs’ name.
Past Metro Police recipients of the Theodore Roosevelt Award were Sgt. Phillip Sage (1998), Detective Clifford Mann (1999), Detective Frank Pierce (2000), Sergeant James (Jimbo) Allen (2001), Officer William Richardson (2002), Detective Joe Cooper (2003), Officer Horace Temple (2004), Officer Foster Hite (2005), Detective Jeff Ball (2006), Officer Dan Alford (2007), Sergeant Brenda Steinbrecher (2008), Officer James Duke (2009), Officer Faye Okert (2010), Lieutenant Joe McEwen (2011), Officer Cindy Huffines (2012), Officer Dennis Hamm (2013), and Officer Bridget Griepentrog (2014).
Information about the activities of the Theodore Roosevelt Association is available on the Internet, http://www.theodoreroosevelt.org