Miller awarded law enforcement awards and purple heart

Chewelah Police Officer Matt Miller stands with Chewelah Mayor Dorothy Knauss. (Polly Triplett photo)

(BRANDON HANSEN/Chewelah Independent)

HONORED: Chewelah’s Matt Miller wins local and regional law enforcement awards as well as purple heart after being injured in November car accident…

Chewelah Police Officer Matt Miller took the podium at the Legion Hall in Chewelah after an emotional and striking ceremony where Miller was named the Chewelah VFW and District VFW Law Enforcement Officer of the year. He was also awarded the Law Enforcement Purple Heart after suffering a major injury in a car accident on Highway 395 last November when Miller’s patrol vehicle was struck head on by another vehicle that had lost control on the highway.

“I wasn’t prepared for this,” Miller said, almost expertly choking back any waver in his voice. “I’m humbled, thank you, it’s an honor and it’s been quite a ride.”

Officer Miller and his K9 Unit Rebel have been serving the community of Chewelah for years, but the city was stunned in November when an auto accident in November turned out to involve this well known duo of law enforcement officers.

The accident took the life of the driver whose vehicle hit the front of Miller’s patrol car with Rebel inside. Miller had to be flown by Life Flight helicopter to a Spokane hospital and he has undergone several surgeries for his injuries from the accident. Rebel was banged around in the accident as well and is being kept in a Spokane-area animal shelter until Miller heals up.

Two Mondays ago, it was time for Miller, a U.S. Marine veteran, to be honored. The local VFW chapter awarded Miller with their award for Law Enforcement Officer of the year and then the District VFW commander awarded Miller the regional Law Enforcement Officer of the Year award.

Chewelah Mayor Dorothy Knauss also addressed a group of ceremony onlookers that included many veterans and law enforcement officers from the area.

“I just want to say law enforcement thank you very much for your service. This is not part of the country that we try to demean you,” Knauss said. “We try to honor you, and this community and the City of Chewelah appreciate everything you do for us.”

Knauss then addressed Miller in her speech.

“This night is a very special night and it will probably be one of the highlights of your career,” Knauss said. “We hope you will be back with us and get more recognition like this throughout your career.”

Stevens County Commissioner and former Chewelah Police Chief Mark Burrows presented Miller with the Washington State Law Enforcement Purple Heart for the injuries he sustained while on duty. Burrows got through the presentation while expressing emotion as he was instrumental in making Miller part of the department and bringing the K9 unit to Chewelah.

Miller’s short speech at the end was met with great applause and even an Oorah Marine could be heard from the crowd.