State group names Clallam deputy Officer of Year

FORKS — Clallam County Sheriff’s Deputy Bill Cortani, who arrested a man after being wounded in a shootout with him near Sekiu, has been named Law Enforcement Officer of the Year by the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs.

The award, given last Friday by a unanimous vote of the council’s board, recognizes “clearly exceptional and outstanding performance of duties, which bring honor and distinction to the officer, their department and their profession.”

“I’m very humbled and honored by it,” said Cortani, 42.

Cortani will receive a medallion and a framed certificate at the council’s winter meeting next month in Olympia.

The Forks-based deputy — who received the National Sheriff’s Association Medal of Valor and Purple Heart in May — was wounded in a shootout with Scott Lincoln Davis in January.

Cortani was investigating a trespassing complaint at a waterfront cabin. After being shot by Davis in the upper left arm and hip, he took cover behind beach logs near the cabin.

As Davis approached, Cortani returned fire and shot him in the stomach and arm. He held Davis at gunpoint until backup arrived.

Both men were treated at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

“It just shows what a tough survival situation that was,” Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict said.

“Bill was in a gun fight, and he prevailed through his training and his own personal grit.”

Humbling

Cortani said the award was humbling in light of the killings of four Lakewood police officers last month and a Seattle police officer in late October.

He said those events put law enforcement work into perspective because they show “what can really happen out there.”

Davis, 60, will go to trial early next year on charges of first-degree attempted murder and first-degree assault. He is being held on $500,000 bail at the Clallam County jail.

The trial was delayed this year because of a slow-to-arrive mental evaluation.

Benedict said Cortani has been a studious law enforcement officer during his 18 years with the Sheriff’s Office who had stayed mentally and physically fit.

The sheriff described the award as “huge” because the Washington Council of Police and Sheriffs is considered a peer group.

The council is made up of 110 law enforcement agencies representing more than 5,000 officers statewide.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-417-3537 or at [email protected]

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