NRA Honors Deputy Mark Johns, the 2022 Law Enforcement Officer of the Year

Deputy Mark Johns of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office displayed exceptional courage while facing an armed suspect, continuing to return fire to protect his fellow officers despite being critically wounded in a shootout.

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posted on April 27, 2023
2022 OOTY NRA 1
Deputy Mark Johns received his NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year plaque at the 2023 Board of Directors meeting in Indianapolis. From left: NRA Board Member Mark Vaughan (past recipient of the NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award), NRA Executive Director of General Operations Joseph P. DeBergalis, Jr., 2022 NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Deputy Mark Johns and NRA President Charles Cotton.
Peter Fountain

Deputy Marks Johns of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office has been selected as the 2022 NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year for demonstrating extraordinary valor in the line of duty while facing an armed suspect. Despite being critically wounded in a gunfire exchange, he continued to return fire, defending himself and fellow officers. Deputy Johns’s actions that day are in line with the highest standards of law enforcement.

Since 1993, NRA’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award has recognized exceptional acts of service by law enforcement officers. The NRA Law Enforcement Division administers the program. Additionally, Smith & Wesson, a longtime supplier of police firearms, supports the NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award by providing an engraved firearm to the recipient.

NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year: Deputy Mark Johns

Last August, Deputy Mark Johns and other deputies of the Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office were at a residence in their jurisdiction to serve a court order. The subject of the court order was located inside the front door of his residence by Deputy Norton, then moved to the rear of the house, where Deputy Sergeant Swartz and Deputy Mark Johns were positioned.

Deputy Mark Johns
2022 NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Deputy Mark Johns’s exceptional courage while under fire is in line with the highest standards of law enforcement. (Photo courtesy Oklahoma County Sheriff’s Office)

While attempting to communicate with the subject through the back door, without warning, the suspect began firing rifle rounds through the door, fatally striking Sergeant Swartz. The concealed gunman continued to move and fire, as Deputy Johns pulled Sergeant Swartz to a safer area to provide medical aid. Deputy Johns then relocated to a more defensible position to locate the suspect and inform other deputies where the suspect had moved to, simultaneously providing protection to Sergeant Swartz.

During this time, the shooter moved through the house and attempted to engage Deputy Norton, who was located at the front of the house. Next, the shooter exited the house and began to fire at Deputy Johns from another direction. During the gunfire exchange, Deputy Johns was struck and knocked down after a rifle round entered his thigh, damaging his femoral artery, sending shrapnel into his abdomen and winding up in his bladder. He was shot twice in total, both rounds hitting him in the upper groin area.

Deputy Johns continued to return fire as the gunman rushed back inside the home. The suspect suddenly exited the residence, jumped into a vehicle and hurried away while firing at the deputies and their vehicles. Oklahoma County deputies and Oklahoma City officers went in pursuit, which ended after the suspect attempted to crash through the security gate at Tinker Air Force Base, and was subsequently taken into custody.

Despite sustaining significant injuries during the incident, Deputy Mark Johns bravely continued to return fire to protect Sergeant Swartz, Deputy Norton and himself. His actions are a credit to his department, the community he serves and keeps with the highest standards of law enforcement.

Earlier this month, the National Rifle Association of America honored Deputy Mark Johns for his bravery in the line of duty at the 2023 Annual Meetings and Exhibits in Indianapolis, Indiana, during a special presentation at the NRA Board of Directors meeting.

How To Nominate

Nominations for the NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award are accepted from anyone with knowledge of the nominee’s actions and may be submitted to NRA at any time, but must be received by October 15 for the current year’s award. Forms for nominating candidates can be downloaded at le.nra.org/documents/pdf/law/leoy.pdf. You can also scan this QR code.

NRA Law Enforcement Officer of the Year QR code

For more information about NRA’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award and its Law Enforcement Division, go to awards.nra.org/awards/nra-officer-of-the-year-award, call (703) 267-1632 or email [email protected].

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