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June 18, 2001

Kalkaska deputy receives Medal of Honor

- Steven Brown won the award for risking his life for a fellow officer
Record-Eagle staff writer

      KALKASKA - A Kalkaska sheriff's deputy has won the Michigan Sheriffs Medal of Honor for risking his life for a fellow officer last summer by throwing himself on a man who claimed he was setting off a grenade.
      Deputy Steven Brown, 45, was honored last week in Midland. He is the first officer in the Kalkaska County Sheriff's Department to receive the honor given by the Michigan Sheriff's Association.
      The call that led to the honor came at 2 a.m. on Aug. 3, 2000.
      About 1.5 miles from his home, his fellow officer, Deputy Patrick Whiteford, was answering a domestic assault complaint near Bear Lake, east of Kalkaska.
      When Whiteford drove up to the home, Randall Dellinger, 41, the man said to have assaulted his wife, charged after the patrol car and threw two practice grenades at the car. They exploded in front of the vehicle.
      Dellinger then began hitting and kicking the car and trying to break the windows. He said he had a grenade and both of them were going to die, according to police reports.
      As an accident reconstructionist, SWAT team member and evidence technician, Brown takes a patrol car home because of the equipment he has to carry. That also means he's on call for emergencies any time of the day or night.
      Brown drove up and rushed over, pulling his gun and ordered the man to lie on the ground. When Dellinger refused, he forced him down. Dellinger had his fists clenched under him and said he had a grenade there and they would both be dead in 3.5 seconds.
      The item in his hand turned out to be a cigarette lighter, but Brown didn't know it at the time. Dellinger had already blown off the two practice grenades. Police thought they were real grenades at the time, though practice grenades still have the force of a quarter-stick of dynamite and can cause sever bodily harm, police said.
      Brown tried not to think about the danger at the time, he said.
      "Fearful things creep into your mind," he said. "But you have to push that crap out of your thoughts and focus. You've got a job to do."
      "After it was all done and I stepped back to think about what happened and what could have happened, yeah, I was pretty shaken," Brown said.
      Whiteford said he was glad Brown was there.
      "To be woken up in the middle of the night and to have your senses and be able to react to a situation the way he did - I don't think just anybody could do that without having the experience Steve has," Whiteford said.
      Brown has been with the Kalkaska Sheriff's Department for 12 years. Before that, he was with Wexford County Sheriff's Department for eight years and had spent eight years in the Military Police Corps. Currently, he's also with the military police for the Michigan National Guard.
      "I've had scary things happen before and have been shot at, but this one ranks right up there," Brown said.
      Still, Brown didn't expect an award for his actions.
      "I was very pleasantly surprised," he said. "It's an incredible honor."