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American Legion honors Busken, Howard and Owens as tops in policing, firefighting

MADISON – American Legion, Post 229 awarded 2021’s outstanding law enforcement officers and firefighter in its annual recognition for first responders. Legionnaires presented the awards at Madison City Council’s meeting on Jan. 24.

Each year, the American Legion gives its “Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award” to a well-rounded law enforcement officer who has exceeded the duty requirements expected of his or her position and has demonstrated a distinct pattern of community service coupled with professional achievement, Post 229 Commander Larry Vannoy said.

“The award, which especially takes into account heroic acts, is presented annually at the local, state and national levels,” Vannoy said.

* Kenneth Howard, Madison City Firefighter of the Year — American Legion, Post 229 awarded the “Firefighter of the Year Award” to Driver/Engineer Kenneth Howard. He and his wife Kim live in Madison and are parents of a five-year-old and an eight-year-old.

“Ken’s experience, his calm demeanor no matter the circumstances, his work ethic and his positive spirit have led him to be a tremendous asset for his shift, for the department and for the citizens of Madison,” Fire Chief David Bailey said. “We are very fortunate to have him in our ranks.”

An employee for seven years, Howard has served as a Firefighter / Paramedic for five years and Driver/Engineer and Paramedic for the past two years.

Because of COVID-19, Madison Fire Department moved Station 1 Engine Company to the former Public Works building on Celtic Drive. Howard was among employees who transformed the site into a working firehouse. He donated personal household items and worked hard to create a livable facility, Bailey said.

For a year, Howard has supervised the Paramedic Orientation Program, assisted the SWAT Team Medics and worked as lead for the drone program.

* Russ Owens, Madison Law Enforcement Officer of the Year — American Legion, Post 229 awarded the “Police Officer of the Year Award” to Officer Russ Owens.

After joining Madison Police Department in 2006, Owens worked in Patrol until 2013. After one year in Traffic, he served in the Investigations Division in Street Crimes until May 2019. Owens then was assigned to the Madison County Drug Task Force as an Agent, where he completed drug buys, arrests, search warrants and seizure.

Owens, a member of the Madison SWAT Team, currently works as Detective and takes criminal calls. He works the range of robberies to death investigations. He received the Lifesaving Award in February 2021. Owens’ son Jett is 15 years old.

“Americans in recent years have been experiencing an unprecedented crime wave, which has permeated all states and neighborhoods in our country. Crime is rapidly becoming America’s foremost domestic problem,” Vannoy said.

* Jacob Busken, Madison County 2021 Deputy of the Year Award — Vannoy awarded the “Deputy of the Year Award” to Deputy Jacob Busken on Jan. 19 at the Madison County Commission meeting. Representatives of Madison Post 229 and Huntsville Posts 237 and 351 attended the presentation.

Busken graduated from the University of Alabama at Birmingham with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. He then served in the U.S. Army. After military service, he continued to serve his country by starting a career in law enforcement, according to Eddie Houk, Chief Deputy with Madison County Sheriff’s Office.

In Dallas, Texas, Busken worked in the police department until moving to Huntsville in 2019, when Madison County Sheriff’s office hired him. Today, Busken works with the Street Crime Unit and Madison County SWAT Team.

“Deputy Busken is one of the most hard working, dedicated and professional deputies,” Houk said. Busken and his wife Sarah are parents of two daughters.

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