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Letter: Dunn County fortunate to have Coker as sheriff

Clayton Coker and I served together in Kosovo in what was then a province within the Republic of Serbia; Kosovo has since gained independence and is a sovereign nation. Clayton and I were participants in the 605-member American contingent of police officers serving in this international peacekeeping mission whose purpose was to bring stability and peace to this war-wracked region. It was an armed mission with executive (arrest) authority.

Early the morning of Nov. 22, 2000, the residence of the Serbian ambassador in Pristina, the provincial capital city, was rocked by a powerful explosion, the result of a bomb that had been placed at the rear of the residence. The powerful blast caused extensive damage to the residence and to surrounding structures as well, inflicting many casualties. Clayton, who had been on foot patrol nearby, was knocked to the ground. Immediately regaining his composure, he directed other officers in securing the crime scene and providing first aid to the wounded, even entering the structurally unsound building with the uncertainty that the blast from a secondary device may be imminent.

As commander of the American police contingent, I was in my office later the same morning when Officer Coker arrived to brief me on the incident. Although covered with dirt and debris from the explosion and his rescue efforts, he was nevertheless calm and composed as he related the events of the previous hours. As I wrote in my letter commending him a few days letter, “I was struck by your courage and keen sense of duty that came through clearly in your narrative.”

It is not my custom to endorse candidates for political office, but as a veteran law enforcement officer I acknowledge the importance that courage, selflessness, honor, and duty play in defining the character of the ideal public servant. These are even more essential in one who stands for election as sheriff. Clayton Coker’s actions during the incident just described attest to his character and fitness for high office. The people of Dunn County are fortunate to have him.

Sheriff W. Peter Palmer,

Chaffee County (Colo.),

Salida, Colo.