Idaho law enforcement officials, firefighting professionals and emergency medical providers perform countless acts of heroism, courage and bravery in the line of duty every day. While many of those deeds go unnoticed outside the ranks of the police department or fire station, some clearly go beyond the call of duty and worthy of special recognition.
In 2004, the Idaho Legislature passed legislation designed to honor those who put their own lives in danger to save others. Senate Bill 1260 established the Idaho Law Enforcement and Firefighting Medal of Honor. The bill was signed into law by Gov. Dirk Kempthorne in April 2004 then amended in 2005 to make emergency medical service (EMS) providers eligible for the award.
The law, Idaho Code, Chapter 88 of Title 67, establishes the Law Enforcement, Firefighting and EMS Medal of Honor. The law directs that it be awarded by the Governor to any law enforcement officer, firefighter or EMS professional who has been distinguished by exceptionally meritorious conduct, and who has been nominated and selected to receive the medal by a commission appointed by the Governor.
When lawmakers debated and adopted the bill, they wanted to send a clear message that the result of their efforts would be “statewide recognition for extraordinary acts of valor and heroism by firefighters and police.” In the bill’s Statement of Purpose, lawmakers noted that the Medal of Honor award assures that the sacrifices made by law enforcement officers and firefighters are recognized and their bravery honored by the state whose citizens they protect. When the law was amended in 2005 to include EMS providers, the Legislature stated that emergency medical providers “make a significant contribution to their communities and take many risks in the line of duty.”
The first Medal of Honor was posthumously awarded to Idaho State Trooper Linda Huff, who was killed in the line of duty in 1998. The award was presented to the family of Linda Huff during a ceremony at the Idaho Peace Officers Memorial in Meridian, Idaho.