Harlan City Police Department Officer Justin Michael Luttrell handled himself like a veteran officer recently when a man pulled a knife and began walking towards him in Harlan. Although he’s only racked up six months experience with the department, he’s been in far worse situations in his lifetime.
The 31-year-old gained his experience for the job when he was in his early 20s. He was only 23 when he joined 634 other soldiers called the ‘Mountain Warriors’ in Rupp Arena. They were greeted by thousands of Kentuckians’ cheers as they were welcomed home from Iraq in 2007.
Luttrell’s father, Lt. Colonel John Michael Luttrell was in command of the Mountain Warriors, (1st Battalion, 149th Infantry Brigade Combat Team of the Kentucky Army National Guard, assigned to 130th Field Artillery Brigade, 1st Cavalry Division.) He said his son was part of a sniper platoon. When they weren’t on sniper missions they ran personnel security detachments he explained, so “he was all over the country at some time or another. He was in northern Iraq, southern Iraq, Baghdad — all over. Whenever an officer needed to go out into the field, they’re required to have a security detachment.”
Luttrell received multiple awards for his service including the Combat Infantryman Badge, Iraq Campaign Badge and Army Commendation to name a few.
Other than his eight years of military experience and one year of active duty, Luttrell spent three years with the Harlan County Sheriff’s Office and three years with the Office of Employment and Training.
Before all that, Luttrell was born and raised in Harlan. He graduated from Harlan High School in 2002 and received an associate degree in science from Southeastern Kentucky Community & Technical College in 2004.
Since his military career ended, Luttrell coached Evarts elementary’s seventh – and eighth-grade football team for six years and was a scout leader as well — when he isn’t focusing on his police work.
Other than his father — Luttrell’s family includes his mother, Teresa Sierra and two sons, Jett Luttrell and Aidan Lewis.
While on the job, Luttrell is most affected by his cases that involve the children. He said “No matter what, all the cases you do, with children affects you in some way. Policing enables me to have the opportunity to help give back in my community. I want my kids to have a better Harlan and the people of the community need to know they can count on me in their time of need.”
His superior officer can’t stop singing his praises either.
“Officer Luttrell is a wonderful asset to our agency,” Chief Mike Thomas said. “He has lots of experience and enthusiasm. He is a great member of our team and represents us well.”
Reach Bradley at 606-909-4146 or on Twitter @bradley_HDE