Missoula County Sheriff’s Deputy Ross Jessop has been selected as co-winner of the 2020 Charles ‘Bud’ Meeks Deputy Sheriff of the Year Award from the National Sheriffs’ Association.

The award was presented to Deputy Jessop by Sheriff T.J. McDermott on Wednesday at the Missoula County Courthouse.

The nomination gives an account of the Miracle Baby events of July 7, 2018, after the suspect, Francis Crowley, transported the baby deep into the woods around Lolo Hot Springs, buried him alive, and the efforts of Deputy Jessop and dozens of others who searched for him in the vast area in total darkness.

“For no real reason at all, I had decided to walk up the mountain instead of down the mountain and two guys went with me,” said Jessup. “After walking straight up the mountain for 15 or 20 minutes, I had to stop and catch my breath, and that is when I heard that baby whimper, and so it was just complete luck and divine intervention and everything else in between.”

At a press conference following the rescue, Jessop and others involved in the rescue related their stories, and the result was a room full of law enforcement professionals in tears.

“All these big tough guys and we pretend that we're big and tough, but the reality is that when you're dealing with this kind of disgusting act, especially on a baby who is completely innocent, it just, it hits you on another level.”

Jessup described the award he received from Sheriff McDermott on Wednesday.

“It's the National Sheriffs Association Bud Meeks award,” he said.  “One of my captains probably a couple years ago, put me in for this and it got reviewed through the National Sheriffs Association organization and I was the one person in the country that got selected to get this, so it's pretty cool and pretty humbling.”

Jessup commented on the fact that law enforcement personnel risk their lives on a daily basis, and that the law enforcement community and the public should work together in the future.

“It'd be really nice for the community and cops to remember what it is that we're here for,” he said. “It's not that we're big and tough and we want to go and arrest people and do all this, but we have a mission and every mission every night, every call. We don't get to pick our calls, and it's just one of those deals. We're certainly glad that there were a couple dozen of us working late into the night that night because that's what we're here for.”

“It’s a great honor to have one of our own recognized at the national level,” said Sheriff McDermott. “The events of that day will be recalled by all who were on shift and others who joined the search.  We thank all those who assisted in the search and convey our sincerest appreciation to Deputy Jessop for his great work and resolve to locate the baby, ultimately saving the baby’s life.”

 

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