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Reno County Commission recognizes VALOR Silver Award winners

5/22/2024 9:45:00 AM

On Wednesday during their meeting, the Reno County Commission recognized Reno County Sheriff's Office Deputy Derrek Berg and Sergeant Levi Conard for receiving the VALOR Silver Award for extraordinary action which directly contributed to the actual saving of a life. 

On May 1st, 2024 The Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police (KACP) and Valor Foundation, which supports Kansas Law Enforcement across the State of Kansas, held their annual banquet and VALOR award presentations.

The KACP present awards in four special categories:

 THE BRONZE AWARD an award to recognize outstanding achievement above and beyond normal law enforcement responsibilities and duties.

 THE SILVER AWARD an award for extraordinary action which directly contributed to the significant prolonging or actual saving of a life.

 THE GOLD AWARD an award recognizing uncommon valor in the line of duty.

 THE CHIEF’S AWARD an award recognizing the supreme sacrifice of an officer who died in the line of duty.

 From across the State of Kansas there were 54 awards handed out that night. The following three awards were given for events which involved two Reno County Deputies and a Kansas State Trooper.

Jeffrey Schawe, Kansas Highway Patrol, and Levi Conard and Derrek Berg, Reno County Sheriff’s Office.

On March 29, 2023, a Be On the Look Out (BOLO) was put out by McPherson County for a suicidal female.  The BOLO advised the subject was driving a silver Hyundai Santa Fe with an Illinois plate.  McPherson County attempted to ping the subject’s phone and the locations were in the northwest corner of Reno County.  Trooper Schawe started to the area to see if he could locate her.  As multiple other units were looking in the northern parts of Stafford and Reno counties, Trooper Schawe began to look within the Quivira Wildlife Refuge, which is just inside northeast Stafford County.  

As Trooper Schawe entered the refuge from the east, he saw a silver Hyundai Santa Fe with a matching Illinois tag parked on the side of the road.  Trooper Schawe approached the vehicle and found it to be locked, running, and a female was lying in the very back seat.  A short time later, Deputies Conard and Berg arrived on scene and one of them could see bleach bottles on the rear floorboard.  Trooper Schawe could see that she was breathing and moving while lying in the back third row seat, but she would not respond to the officers on-scene.  

Due to the possibility that she created a toxic gas in attempts to kill herself, Trooper Schawe broke the front passenger side window that was facing the north as there was a strong south wind.  As soon as Trooper Schawe broke the window, he could smell a strong chemical odor coming out of the vehicle, and he could hear her coughing and hacking in the back seat.  Trooper Schawe then went around to the driver’s side and broke the driver side front window.  After a short period of time, Deputies Conard and Berg and Trooper Schawe opened the rear doors and back hatch to give the female as much fresh air as possible.  

Deputies spoke to the female, but she refused to come out of the vehicle, stating that she wanted to be left alone.  Eventually she came close enough to an open door and Deputy Conard’s quick thinking and reaction allowed him to grab hold of her and with assistance from Deputy Berg, remove her from the vehicle.  

For extraordinary action which directly contributed to the actual saving of a life, Jeffrey Schawe, Levi Conard, and Derrek Berg each received the silver award.

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