The Juneau police chief this week announced his picks for the police officer of the year for 2011, as well as the dispatcher and civilian employee of the year and a host of other awards designated to recognize those who go above and beyond the call of duty.
“Day in and day out, they’re doing good work,” Chief Greg Browning said in an interview. “I do congratulate them all.”
An award presentation for the “Employee Recognition Awards for 2011” was held May 5 for the officers, employees and their spouses, Browning said.
The Juneau Police Department Officer of the Year award went to Officer Matthew DuBois, a five-year veteran on the force who is also a military veteran. He served in the Army National Guard and completed a tour in Iraq.
“Matt has distinguished himself from other officers by his positive attitude and strong work ethic,” Browning said. “He regularly comes to work happy and ready to work. His positive attitude is infectious and has a positive impact on the rest of his teammates.”
DuBois, whose stepfather was a police officer for two years in the mid-1990s, has also burnished a solid reputation for seeing his work through to the end, Browning said.
“He routinely finishes complex cases within his shift and avoids the needs to have investigators finish his cases,” the chief said. “As a result, Matt has developed a well-deserved reputation as a tenacious officer who likes to follow a case to its conclusion.”
DuBois is also a field training officer with JPD and a member of the SWAT team.
The civilian employee of the year award went to Jennifer Adams, a community service officer. Her primary duty is administering and enforcing the commercial passenger vehicle code.
“I promise you that it is a challenging assignment any time — but this year, it was double difficult with some major changes made during the year in the code and regulations,” Browning said.
Browning added, “Jennifer did an outstanding job dealing with (commercial Passenger Vehicle) owners and operators during the transition. She also represented the department very articulately and intelligently in front of the Assembly.”
Sgt. Scott Erickson was awarded the Medal of Valor for extinguishing a fire inside the Riveredge Park Condos on Lemon Creek Road last July while responding to a property crime.
“While another officer began to alert other residents in the complex to evacuate, Sgt. Erickson attempted to enter the apartment finding the entry fully engulfed in flames. He yelled inside the apartment to try to and see if anybody was there. Due to heavy smoke he had to retreat. As he went down the stairwell, he was met by the other officer who had retrieved a fire extinguisher from a patrol car. Sgt. Erickson took the extinguisher and proceeded back up to the apartment and was able to knock down the fire,” Browning said.
Erickson was also recognized as Manager of the Year. He spent half of 2011 temporarily assigned as a patrol lieutenant while also maintaining command of the Tactical Operations Unit.
“Scott really stepped up and did an excellent job in 2011,” Browning said. “He is well deserving of the award.”
Officers Lee Phelps, Jarrett Mahoney and Carl Lundquist were awarded the Lifesaving Medal, and Detectives Kim Horn and Elias Joven won the Outstanding Police Service Medal.
The entire dispatch unit at the JPD Communications Center, which is staffed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to answer 911 calls and to communicate with police officers on where they need to go, won the Dispatcher of the Year award.
“2011 was a hectic year in dispatch, to say the least,” Browning said. “We struggled with short staffing the entire year. Dispatchers were often asked to work 60 hours a week and did so without complaint.”
The dispatchers are Celeste Lopez, Christy Smith, Meghan Kennedy-Brown, Tonya Kurtz, Meaghan Wills, Erika Ahrens and Keith Byrne.
The Jackie Renninger Community Policing Award went to Community Service Officer Kathy Underwood. She provided training in arrest control tactics, organized the Law Enforcement Torch Run for the Special Olympics and the child safety seat program and served on the JPD fitness committee.
“Kathy embodies the spirit of the award,” Browning said. “No one gives more selflessly in service to the community than Kathy.”
• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller or at 523-2263 at firstname.lastname@example.org.