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Deputy Recognized for Saving Life with Words, Not Gun

Richland County Sheriff’s Department DuJuan Council insists he deserves no special thanks or recognition. “I’m no hero and I refuse to take credit as one,” he said during our interview. Once you know his story, however, you may choose to disagree.

Council was off duty and with his son on a school field trip on an October day when the sheriff’s department received a call about a man armed with a gun threatening to harm himself. Deputies, arriving at the home, realized the man “was somebody I’d built a relationship with in the community,” as Council explained. They called Council, who answered even on a day off. Because he did, at least one life was saved.

When Council took the call,his fellow deputies were 45 minutes into a standoff with the armed man. Though the man was threatening only himself, the situation was tense, as with any scenario involving a person with a loaded weapon. The deputies on the scene contacted the man and put Council on the phone with him. The voice of a deputy he knew made all the difference.

“I just told him not to make a permanent decision based on a temporary situation,” Council said. “It was a great team effort… Instead of our guns we all used our vocal communications.” Council, still far from the scene, promised the man that if he would put the gun down, Council would come to see him immediately. Minutes later, the man surrendered, giving up the weapon and allowing deputies to take him to Palmetto Health Baptist hospital.

Council was waiting at the hospital by the time the man arrived for treatment, and he and a fellow deputy stayed at the man’s side through the remainder of the day. They were not there to enforce a law or to protect anyone. They were not there for pay. They were there because the man was a part of the community they serve, and every single life in that community is important to them.

Council refused to take credit, though Sheriff Leon Lott presented him and the deputies on the scene with the department’s “Life Saving Award.”

“I really credit Sheriff Lott” for emphasizing the importance of community policing and building relationships, Council said. “I also credit the training I received and God for using me. So many guys do this every day.”

Council devotes himself to the community on duty and off. He has served since 2014 on the board of the SC Whitmore School, a virtual school which is part of the state’s Charter School District. In addition to SCWS, he sits on the board of the Lexington/Richland Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council (LRADAC) and the Richland County CASA Foundation and is a member of Bethel AME Church.

SCWS Principal John Loveday said his school is proud to have Deputy Council on their board.

“We are incredibly proud of Deputy Council for receiving this amazing award and the role he played in such an inspiring event,” said Loveday. “We have seen Deputy Council’s big heart and selfless attitude up close for many years and it’s great to see him get the recognition he deserves. Our school is honored to call Deputy Council a friend and board member.”

“We invest in the community,” Council added. In October, that investment paid the biggest dividend possible.

Featured photo: Deputy DuJuan Council, second from left, receives the Richland County Sheriff’s Department Life Saving Award on January 4, 2017.

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