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This is the last in a series of three stories about awards given to local emergency services and law enforcement personnel. The first story focused on awards given to Campbellsville Fire & Rescue personnel and the second those given to Campbellsville/Taylor County EMS personnel.
He says he loves to help people, and treats them all with respect.
And it's helping people that earned him this year's Deputy of the Year Award.
Taylor County Sheriff's Deputy Dickie Benningfield recently received this year's Distinguished Service Award from Campbellsville Fire & Rescue.
And, after receiving that honor, Taylor County Sheriff Allen Newton awarded Benningfield with this year's deputy of the year honor.
"He just seems to be in the right place at the right time," Newton said.
He said Benningfield works hard and does his job to help others and, as such, is deserving of the honor.
At the recent Campbellsville Fire & Rescue awards banquet, Chief Kyle Smith said fire and emergency services personnel and law enforcement officers often make split-second decisions that can forever change a person's life.
On one particular day, Smith said, fire and rescue personnel were asked to respond to a report of a vehicle that had been crashed and caught fire. He said the driver was trapped inside. But when firefighters got to the scene, there was no fire.
Smith said Benningfield had been driving by the area and saw the fire. He got a fire extinguisher from his vehicle and put it out.
"His actions that day undoubtedly saved the life of that individual," Smith said.
While answering another call, Benningfield said he saw the crashed car in flames. The driver was trapped inside. Fire & Rescue employees were keeping the driver calm while he worked to extinguish the fire. The driver, a Campbellsville University student, has recovered, Benningfield said.
Benningfield, from Taylor County, graduated from Taylor County High School and completed a bachelor's degree in business administration at Campbellsville University. He worked at Fruit of the Loom for 25 years. When the company closed, Benningfield went to work at Fleetwood Travel Trailers. After working there for seven years, the company left Campbellsville and went to Mexico.
At that time, Benningfield said, he went to work as a court bailiff for former Taylor County Sheriff John Shipp. After a while, there was an opening for a deputy. That was six years ago.
In the early 1980s, Benningfield said, he applied to work at Kentucky State Police and Campbellsville Police.
"And it just wasn't my time," he said. "But it was something I had always been interested in."
As a sheriff's deputy, Benningfield patrols the roads, serves papers and answers complaint calls.
"I enjoy all of it," he said. "The traffic part is really a small percentage of what we do."
Benningfield and his wife, Marsha, had a daughter who died at age 5. And he said that makes working with children special to him.
"If I can make someone feel safe," he said. "If I can tell a child, 'They're not going to hurt you anymore ... '"
Benningfield said working as a deputy can be dangerous.
"We have to run to a problem and other people are running away from a problem."
But even though being a sheriff's deputy can put Benningfield in harm's way, he said he enjoys every minute of it.
"I love what I do and I try to treat everyone with respect. Give every call my best effort," he said. "You come up against people who don't respect you. We try to show everyone respect that will let us."
Benningfield said he didn't know he was being honored with either award, but is honored to receive them.
"I was surprised," he said. "The whole department works hard."
Benningfield also received the Deputy of the Year award in 2010.
He said he and the other deputies watch out for each other and all do a great job.
"I don't feel like I do anything more than any of the other deputies," he said. "I really appreciate the honor."
The Benningfields, who have been married for 33 years, have a son, Reed, and a daughter-in-law, Tabby, three step-grandchildren, Ashton, Camdon and Christian and a grandson, Drake.
Benningfield said he hopes to wear a sheriff's deputy uniform for many more years to come.
"I love it and I'm hoping to retire from law enforcement," he said.
Campbellsville Police Chief Tim Hazlette said awards will be given to his officers in the spring to honor them for their work this year.