Over the past two years, police officers time and again have risked their lives, or shown acts of courage and heroism in their daily pursuit of keeping Juneau safe.
The Juneau Police Department honored many of those officers during a private award ceremony at DIPAC on Saturday. Police spokesman Lt. David Campbell filled the media in on who won the awards, and why.
The complete list of the 2012 JPD award winners is as follows:
Medal of Valor
• Sgt. Dominic Branson, Officer Matt DuBois and Officer Nick Garza all won the Medal of Valor for aiding a young woman the night of Nov. 6, 2011. A 22-year-old man and 18-year-old woman had run from police officers responding to their apartment at Cedar Park in North Douglas, and the couple plunged into the darkness off an 80-foot cliff into Kowee Creek. The man, identified as Evan Smith, died instantly, but the woman survived and cried for help. “At great personal risk, the officers scaled the rock ledge and provided care for the female for over one hour while awaiting additional help,” Campbell said. “For this incident Sergeant Dominic Branson, Officer Matt DuBois, and Officer Nick Garza were awarded a Medal of Valor.”
Outstanding Police Service
• Officer Ben Beck received the Outstanding Police Service Medal for gaining the trust of an elderly gentleman who insisted he did not require medical assistance.
JPD received a call of a residential burglary alarm on Jan. 18, 2012, and upon arrival, the man told officers the alarm was a mistake and that he did not need assistance. Campbell said Officer Ben Beck continued to speak with the man, gained his trust and was able to determine he was having medical problems. Medics were called, and the man ended up receiving the medical care he needed.
Medal of Valor/ Outstanding Police Service
• On April 7, 2012, Troy A. Wilson, an ex-police lieutenant and 17-year JPD veteran, shot at police officers who responded to a 911 call at his home on Black Wolf Way. No one was injured despite the fact that Wilson fired off 75 to 100 shots from high-powered rifles and handguns at officers and their vehicles until he surrendered five hours later. After the fact, harrowing stories emerged from officers who managed to stay out of the line of fire as they evacuated neighbors and kept watch over the residential neighborhood during the standoff.
“For this incident, Officer Krag Campbell, Officer Joseph Heynen, Officer Brandon Lawrenson, Officer Lee Phelps, Officer Darin Schultz, and Officer Jeremy Weske were awarded the Medal of Valor,” Campbell said. “Community Services Officer Rebecca Notmeyer, Dispatcher Megan Kennedy-Brown, Evidence Specialist Kelly Magee, Lieutenant David Campbell, Officer Dan Cheshire, Officer Kevin Fermin, Officer Nick Garza, Officer Kim Horn, Officer Shawn Phelps, Officer Jim Quinto, Officer Kathy Underwood, Sergeant Dominic Branson, Sergeant Brian Dallas, and Sergeant Chris Gifford were awarded the Outstanding Police Service Medal.”
• Officer Jarrett Mahoney received the Lifesaving Medal for performing CPR on a man overdosing on drugs and keeping him alive before medics arrived on scene. Campbell said JPD responded to a report of a male not breathing on Sept. 2, 2012, and Mahoney arrived, opened the male’s airway and began performing CPR. After a couple of CPR cycles, the man began breathing on his own. Medics from Capital City Fire and Rescue then arrived on scene and provided the man further treatment.
Outstanding Police Services
• Community Services Officer Jennifer Adams was awarded the Outstanding Police Services medal for guiding medics to a woman who said she needed medical assistance for help breathing, but didn’t know where she was. Working as a dispatcher at the time, Adams used communication techniques to determine the woman’s location during the 911 call on Oct. 15, 2012, Campbell said. Medics were then able to provide the woman with treatment.
• Dispatcher Ericka Johnson, Officer Joe Bankowski and Officer Jeff Brink were all awarded the Lifesaving medal for their response to a report of a 4-month-old baby who had stopped breathing. Campbell said Johnson talked the father through infant CPR over the phone during the 911 call on Oct. 19, 2012, and that Bankowski and Brink took over CPR once they arrived on the scene. CCFR medics then arrived and provided further medical care.
• JPD officers were the first emergency responders to arrive to the Gastineau Apartment building on South Franklin Street when it began burning on Nov. 5, 2012. Officers Ben Beck, Nick Garza and Cody Held ran into the smoky building and pounded on doors to alert the residents to the danger. One of the officers suffered elevated carbon monoxide levels and required oxygen treatment at the hospital. The officers also helped firefighters conduct search and rescues, and they assisted in rescuing an rescued an elderly resident trapped in his third-story apartment. All three officers were awarded the lifesaving medal for their efforts.
• On Dec. 13, 2012, JPD received a report of a distraught man in the water at Aurora Harbor. Officer Ben Beck and Officer Patrick Vaughan responded, but the man refused to cooperate and did not get out of the water. Eventually the man lost consciousness. The two officers pulled him from the water and performed CPR. For their actions, they both were awarded the lifesaving medal.
In addition to service medals, JPD also awarded the four following employees for their outstanding service:
• Shawn Sypeck was awarded the 2012 JPD Civilian Employee of the Year.
• Lead Dispatcher Celeste Lopez was awarded the 2012 JPD Dispatcher of the Year.
• Sgt. Dominic Branson was awarded the 2012 JPD Manager of the Year.
• Officer Sterling Salisbury was awarded the 2012 JPD Officer of the Year.
Campbell said the JPD would like to take this opportunity to thank all its employees for their dedication and sacrifice for striving to make Juneau a safer community.