poam police officer of the yearIn the early morning hours on July 14, 2020, around 6:45 a.m. in the Quality Dairy Store in Eaton County, a 77-year-old male was tragically and critically stabbed by a man who refused to put on a mask when asked and the store then refused service. When the suspect fled the scene, the State Police, as well as the Eaton County Sheriff’s Department, responded to the 911 call.

The officers were able to access the store’s security system, and they obtained a description of the suspect and his license plate. The suspect was soon identified, and they obtained his home address. Officers went to the suspect’s home and spoke with his wife who said her husband had left for work at his job with the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). The State Police immediately headed to the MDOT facility in Lansing and left Eaton County Deputy Theresa VanDorpe to watch the suspect’s house. Deputy VanDorpe parked away from the home where she could observe any sign of the suspect’s car should he return to his residence.

The suspect’s car did appear. As the suspect neared his home, Deputy VanDorpe activated her lights and sirens and stopped the suspect. The suspect, armed and dangerous, quickly got out of his car brandishing multiple screwdrivers and a knife and started advancing on foot toward Deputy VanDorpe with weapons in each hand. Deputy VanDorpe exited her car, weapon drawn and instructed the suspect numerous times to drop his weapons. The suspect refused to comply with Deputy VanDorpe’s numerous verbal commands to drop his weapons and continued to advance rapidly toward her with his arms drawn. As he got within just a few feet of VanDorpe, she fired. Despite being hit, the suspect lunged at Deputy VanDorpe with his weapons raised, and he struck Deputy VanDorpe’s gun and caused the weapon to jam. Deputy VanDorpe’s years of training kicked in as she pushed the suspect back and simultaneously cleared her weapon malfunction. When he was pushed back, the suspect dropped one of the weapons. He bent over to pick it up. When he retrieved it, he then continued his uninterrupted aggression toward Deputy VanDorpe. She fired again at the suspect who finally went down. Deputy VanDorpe covered the suspect until she was certain his threat was under control and immediately updated dispatch of the circumstances, including a request for medical assistance for the suspect.

Deputy Theresa VanDorpe Faces Violence Head-On

Deputy Teresa VanDorpe of Eaton County DSA
POAM Business Agent Gregg Allgeier, Eaton County’s Theresa VanDorpe, and POAM President Jim Tignanelli,

Deputy VanDorpe was faced with a violent man who had already stabbed and killed a man for unknown reasons. She had to use every ounce of courage and skill to protect herself and contain a suspect who was intent on causing her death and others that day. For your bravery and exceptional police work, the Police Officers Association of Michigan presents you with the 2020 Police Officers of the Year Award.

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