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It started out as just an ordinary day at work for Conrad Lanham, a deputy jailer at the Shelby County Detention Center.
Then everything changed in a heartbeat when an inmate grabbed a female employee and put a sharp object to her throat.
What Lanham did next earned him the title of Kentucky Deputy Jailer of the Year for 2010, an award given each year to a deputy who has displayed remarkable courage and bravery.
Lanham, who has moved on to a new job since graduating from Eastern Kentucky University with a degree in criminal justice, talks about that day last of April 2010 that could have had tragic consequences if not for his actions.
“He grabbed her [nurse Angie Sizemore] and put a pen to her throat and said, ‘Don’t anybody move,’” Lanham said. “I seized the inmate and forced him to free Nurse Sizemore. He let go of her and turned his aggression toward me.
“He and I scuffled around for about thirty seconds, until two other deputies came running, and we got him down and handcuffed.”
Shelby County Jailer Bobby Waits said he is proud of Lanham and the way he acted without hesitation to save the nurse from a possible deadly situation.
“He is well-deserving of this award; he just immediately jumped in and tackled the inmate and did what needed to be done,” Waits said.
Lanham said the only thing going through his mind at the time was that he had to save the nurse.
“My first priority was to get her out of that situation,” he said.
Waits, past president of the Kentucky Jailers Association, said the award, which he had advocated establishing for quite some time, is in its third year.
“They [deputies] get little credit for what they do, and when one of them saves a life, people never know about it; that’s why I pushed so hard for it [the award],” he said.
Waits said that when a jailer has a deputy who does a heroic deed, he or she can submit his or her name for the award. The winner is presented with a plaque and a certificate at the annual Jailers Association Conference in Bowling Green.
This year there were about 25 nominees, Waits said.
Waits said that the committee that selected Lanham had a tough decision in that one of the deputies in the running for the award saved an inmate who was attempting to commit suicide by hanging himself.
“But they [committee members] obviously felt it should go to him [Lanham],” he said, “and that makes me very proud.
“I’ve won Jailer of the Year award, but to me, this award is more important, because he saved a life, and to me, I’m more gratified at him having won this than any award I have won.”
Lanham, 23, a 2006 Shelby County High School graduate.
He is currently working on his master’s degree in criminal justice at EKU.
He is the son of Bobbie and Steve Lanham.
Bobbie Lanham said she was astonished when she heard about the award, because her son did not tell her about the incident with the inmate.
“He just got dressed up and when he came back [from the conference], he had this award,” she said. “He did a really good thing, and I was so impressed—I got him to hang the award on his wall. I am so proud of him.”