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Stephens County Sheriff's Office honored for peacefully ending 2014 standoff

DUNCAN, Okla._The Stephens County Sheriff's Office has been honored by the state for their role in a standoff last year at a church in Duncan.

The standoff happened last June when a woman suffering from mental illness walked into Ray of Hope Church with a gun, where a dozen employees were working. Sheriff Wayne McKinney and nine deputies worked alongside the church's pastor to end the situation peacefully.

Last Friday, the sheriff and his crew received commemorative coins from the Oklahoma Department of Mental Health, with an engraving that says, "What you do makes a difference." 

Sheriff McKinney says he is honored to receive the recognition. He says the reason he and his deputies were able to resolve that situation is all because they go through a lot training for standoff type situations.

In a case like the one they saw in June 2014, Sheriff McKinney says they have to be prepared for anything.

"These are extremely dangerous situations. Not only for law enforcement, but the general public and that individual also," Sheriff McKinney said.

Sheriff McKinney says the outcome of a standoff situation can get ugly. Fortunately, last year's incident ended without any injuries, and the Department of Mental Health commended Sheriff McKinney and nine deputies.

"We didn't know that they were going to do something like this, and when they did it makes us feel that all the hard work we go through, the training we go through, the working with our public, working with different agencies like we do, it all paid off that," Sheriff McKinney said.

Pastor Mike McCord of Ray Hope Church was inside the church the day the 21-year-old woman entered the church. He says he is proud to hear of the sheriff department's award and says that day could have taken a turn for the worse.

"Looking back on it, I don't know what anyone could have done differently. Everyone responded very well, the sheriff’s department, law enforcement, staff here, everyone did a superb job and we thank God that he helped us," Pastor McCord said.

Sheriff McKinney says this award shows the community that it is headed in a positive direction.

"It says that we are trying and we are going to continue to serve the public and make this a safe place to live for everyone," Sheriff McKinney said.

Sheriff McKinney says the department will continue to go through training to ensure every deputy is prepared for what can happen in the future.

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