JPD officer wins two life-saving awards

Police chief also awards 11-year-old girl, 2013 JPD Employees of the Year

A Juneau Police Department officer was awarded two lifesaving medals from the department on Tuesday for helping save a car crash victim and a potential fire victim.

JPD Chief Bryce Johnson gave the awards to Sterling Salisbury during a ceremony that also distributed awards for the 2013 JPD Employees of the Year and a Citizen’s Certificate of Merit to an 11-year-old girl who called 911 during a domestic dispute at her home.

Johnson said Salisbury responded to a single-vehicle car crash near the intersection of Davis Avenue and Churchill Way the evening of March 28 and found that a woman had driven off the roadway, crashed her car, struck a power pole and knocked it over. Live guide wires charged with electricity were draped across her vehicle, but Salisbury still went to the woman — who was laying unconscious on the ground outside the driver seat of the vehicle — and dragged her to safety, Johnson said. Paramedics responded and took the woman to the hospital.

“At great risk to your own safety, the female was saved from possible ... life-threatening injuries due to electrically-charged guide wires,” Johnson told Salisbury in front of coworkers and family members.

Salisbury and another officer, Tommy Penrose, who was unable to make the ceremony, were awarded the lifesaving medal for their response to a fire inside an apartment at the Mendenhall Towers on Fourth Street in early January.

Johnson said a man called 911 and reported he could hear his neighbor’s fire alarm going off, the apartment was filled with smoke, and he could see his neighbor’s legs on the ground of the apartment.

The two JPD officers entered the apartment before CCFR arrived on scene. The neighbor took burnt food off the hot stove, Salisbury doused it with a fire extinguisher and Penrose dragged the unresponsive man to safety in the hallway. They were able to rouse him, and CCFR paramedics took him to the hospital.

“You entered the apartment and saved a possible victim,” Johnson said, adding, “If not for your actions and those of the neighbor, it is very likely that a fire would have started and the man would have succumbed to smoke inhalation.”

A committee decides who should be awarded lifesaving medals based on specific criteria.

Eleven-year-old Kayley James was given a Citizen’s Certificate of Merit for her response to a domestic violence incident at her home in early March. The fifth-grader called 911 when a man punched her mother multiple times in the face. She later helped police apprehend him — the man had fled and was gone by the time police arrived on scene. On her way to the hospital with her mother, James spotted the man walking and called police again. He was arrested for domestic violence assault and violating a domestic violence protective order.

James was shy to speak, but beamed when Johnson handed her the certificate as her mother snapped pictures from the seating area.

“I’m very proud of her,” her mother, who did not want to be named, told the Empire. “The only thing I have to say about it is that what she did was absolutely correct. I regret that she had to do it, but everything she did — I credit to the cops who go to the classroom and talk to them, and talk to them about situations like this.”

Johnson also doled out awards for the 2013 JPD Employees of the Year, which he chooses. The police officer of the year award went to Blain Hatch, the school resource officer. The civilian of the year award went to JPD Records Supervisor Cindy Ruby. Dispatcher of the year went to Meghan Kennedy-Brown. Leader of the year went to JPD Communications Center manager Erann Kalwara.

• Contact reporter Emily Russo Miller at 523-2263 or at

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