Vern Jefferson looked at his shiny new U.S. Department of Justice Congressional Badge of Bravery and said, "It's pretty impressive."
Jefferson, an officer with the Marshalltown Police Department, was presented the medal by U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, Friday.
Jefferson was shot in the leg while apprehending suspects in the armed robbery of the Lennox Employees Credit Union on Nov. 2, 2012.
T-R PHOTO BY ANDREW POTTER
Marshalltown Police Officer Vern Jefferson, left, receives the Congressional Badge of Bravery from U.S. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, in the Marshalltown City Council chambers Friday. Jefferson was honored for his work during a credit union robbery in 2012 where he was shot in the thigh.
"What he did is just in the finest tradition of law enforcement," Harkin said. "He put his life on the line. I think he's quite a remarkable individual."
Jefferson was back on duty by February 2013 and even ran a marathon earlier this year. Jefferson said he thinks about the incident every day and that he is stronger now because it happened.
He thanked his family, friends, fellow police officers and the credit union employees for all of their support - many of which were in the Marshalltown City Council chambers Friday and gave him a standing ovation when he got the medal.
"It's nice to know that we all stick together when something like this happens," Jefferson said.
Jefferson was nominated for the award by the MPD and is believed to be the second Iowan to receive it after Congress introduced the honor in 2008.
"You deserve it," Harkin told Jefferson after handing him the award. "Wear it with pride."
Jefferson appreciated the rarity of the honor bestowed upon him.
"Being one of the (few) recipients, I think it's a pretty high honor," Jefferson said.
Jefferson's fellow MPD officers filled the back corner of the room and Harkin said he respects all of the men and women in law enforcement.
"These men and women go to work every day and they don't know what they'll come up against," Harkin said. "It is a tough occupation."
For his courageous actions that day, Jefferson has previously received a medal of valor from the MPD and was named the Iowa Police Chiefs Association officer of the year in 2013.