Police Officer of the Year Honorees

 

2016 - Captain William Villanova, Prefecture de Police de Paris, France

Captain Villanova left his office on the evening of November 13, 2015, after learning of an explosion at the Stade de France but was diverted to the Bataclan concert hall in the eastern part of Paris in response to an active shooter situation. Arriving at the Bataclan with a partner, they immediately saw a horrific scene and heard automatic weapon fire and a series of detonations from inside. Moving into the concert hall, Captain Villanova was able to get a glimpse of a suspected terrorist with a hostage and hundreds of people lying on the floor. Captain Villanova and his partner immediately fired their weapons at the suspect who fell to the floor and his suicide vest then detonated. As more gunfire erupted from further inside, Captain Villanova continued to engage the remaining terrorists while helping more victims escape–thereby helping secure the ground floor despite the urging of others to wait for the SWAT team. Once the SWAT team arrived, Captain Villanova began evacuating several hundred of those inside– moving them as best he could through the worst of the damaged concert hall – before the final assault by security forces that ended the killing spree. Watch his story here.

2015 – Officer Scott T. Angulo, Tallahassee, Florida, Police Department

One Saturday in November 2014, while off duty, Officer Angulo heard gunshots outside of his home. After rushing his family into a bathroom, he donned his ballistic vest and went to investigate. He found a house on fire, a deputy sheriff down, another suffering from wounds, and firefighters taking cover from a volley of gunfire. Officer Angulo engaged the suspect, came to the aid of the injured deputy, and warned other first responders of the dangerous situation. While drawing attention away from another officer who was helping the injured deputy, Officer Angulo was able to fatally wound the suspect and end the situation. Watch his story here.

2014 – Officer James F. Cunningham, San Francisco, California, Police Department

On the morning of July 6, 2013, Officer Cunningham was patrolling the north end of the San Francisco International Airport. Suddenly, on the opposite end of the airfield, Officer Cunningham witnessed an airplane, Asiana Flight 214, crash into the seawall prior to reaching the runway. He accelerated his vehicle to the crash site despite knowing he would be going into a potentially catastrophic scene. Without regards to his own personal safety and without any type of breathing apparatus, he boarded the burning plane. Once on board, the officer cleared paths for injured passengers to exit, rescued those trapped in their seat belts, and aided the severely injured off the plane. His actions helped save the lives of 304 passengers that day. Watch his story here.

2013 – Trooper First Class Timothy A. Strohmeyer, Pennsylvania State Police

On December 21, 2012, Trooper Strohmeyer and Trooper Nazurak responded to a shooting incident in which a suspect had shot several people. En route to the incident, Troopers Strohmeyer and Nazurak encountered the suspect fleeing from the scene in a pickup truck. As the troopers passed, the suspect fired several shots, striking both of their vehicles. Corporal Campbell encountered the suspect’s vehicle nearby and the suspect crashed head-on into Campbell’s patrol vehicle. As Trooper Strohmeyer arrived at the scene of the crash, he immediately saw the suspect exiting his truck and made a decision to drive his vehicle into the rear of the suspect’s truck to diver the suspect’s attention from Campbell. Upon impact, the suspect charged Trooper Strohmeyer’s patrol car, firing multiple rounds and hitting Trooper Strohmeyer in the chest and left wrist. Fortunately, he was wearing protective body armor and was not seriously injured from the chest wound and was able to return fire, striking the suspect and saving Corporal Campbell’s life. Watch his story here.

2012 – Lieutenant Adam Kosheba, Pennsylvania State Police

In June 2011, Lieutenant Kosheba was able to use his extensive medical and law enforcement training in a critical situation. As task force members arrived to arrest a suspect on burglary, firearms, and assault charges, the suspect fled. Pursued by officers and a K-9 unit, the suspect opened fire with an AK-47 rifle, striking Deputy Kyle Pagerly. When officers rushed to Pagerly’s side, they had to contend with Jynx, a loyal police dog leery of those attempting to assist his devoted handler. In the midst of this harrowing scene, Kosheba returned fire, killing the suspect. He then immediately focused his attentions on Pagerly, helping to calm Jynx and providing critical medical assistance. Along with fellow officers, Kosheba then carried the gravely wounded Pagerly to a police vehicle nearly a half mile away. As Pagerly was transported to the medical helicopter landing site, Kosheba continued first aid – efforts that while ultimately unsuccessful, speak to Kosheba’s commitment to his team. Watch his story here.

2011 – Chief of Intelligence Martin Torres Guzman, Costa Rica Policia

Despite the fact that Costa Rica has no army, Chief of Intelligence Torres and his 200 officers of the Policia Control de Drogas had made Costa Rica number one in the world in marijuana seizures and number two, just behind Panama, in the seizure of cocaine from Columbia. Between June 2010 and June 2011, Chief Torres’ team seized roughly 2.9 million marijuana plants or 2.9 kilos, a little more than the amount seized I the entire United States in the same Period. Since July of 2010, Chief Torres and his aides seized 2,700 kilos of cocaine and $4 million in cash and arrested 3 high ranking members of the Avarado drug cartel out of Sinaloa, Mexico.

2011 - Officer Michael Neal, Arkansas Game and Fish Commission*

Wildlife Officer Neal was two counties away in his agency-issued pickup truck when he learned that two West Memphis, Arkansas, police officers had been shot and killed while making a routine traffic stop. Two suspects drove to a Wal-Mart where their vehicles were spotted and intercepted by Crittenden County, Arkansas Sheriff Dick Busby and Chief Deputy W. A. Wren. As they stepped out of their vehicles, the suspects opened fire with an AK-47, wounding both as they took cover behind their patrol car. Officer Neal saw this from 50 years away as he came racing onto the scene and he slammed into the suspect’s van at 55 miles per hour while firing his AR-15 through the windshield. During the ensuing gun battle, Office Neal took shrapnel in five difference places and the suspects were killed.

2010 – Trooper Matthew Cochran, Virginia State Police

Trooper Cochran was on patrol in Hillsville, Virginia, in January when he and two other police officers arrived at the scene of an apartment fire even before firefighters. Together, they began banging on residents’ doors. Then Cochran heard the screams of Emily Bowman, a 72-year old woman who was sleeping in her recliner when the fire alarm went off. Instead of going out an exterior door, she mistakenly opened an interior door and stepped into a burning, smoke-filled hallway. Crawling on his hands and knees through thick smoke, he was able to reach her on his third attempt and walked her out of the burning building. Bowman spent a week in the hospital recovering from smoke inhalation and credits Trooper Cochran for saving her life.  

2009 - Officer Pedro Garcia, III, San Antonio, Texas, Police Department

Quick thinking and daring action by Officer Garcia on September 8, 2008, saved the lives of two badly wounded fellow officers who came under gunfire while attempting to serve a felony warrant at a San Antonio residence. Once there, Garcia focused on rescuing the wounded officer and was struck in the face by a bullet or bullet fragment. Despite his injury, Garcia reached one of the wounded officers and pulled her out of the building and into the fenced backyard while returning fire. Garcia called to another officer to ram a fence gate with a patrol car and open a path so they could escape. While the gunfire from the house continued, Officer Garcia carried the wounded officer to his patrol car and drove her down the street to a waiting EMS unit. He then returned to the scene to coordinate with his fellow officers until a SWAT Team relieved them.

2008 – Officer Michael Nilles, Aurora, Illinois, Police Department

Beginning with the goal of solving four previously unsolved cases, Officer Nilles and the team he assembled ended up looking back into 50 unsolved homicides. Their work led to charges in 20 such cases dating back over two decades and 31 suspects were charged with 179 counts of murder. All but one were in custody as the investigation, called Operation First Degree Burn, took many high-ranking Latin King gang members off the street, including their leader, 56-year old Angel “Doc” Luciano.

2007 – Officer Roy Gilbert, Detroit, Michigan, Police Department

In the middle of the night on December 30, 2006, Officer Gilbert and his partner, Officer John McKee were following a vehicle that had been carjacked. When the driver suddenly stopped and fled down an alley, Gilbert gave chase on foot. McKee followed in the patrol car as the suspect ran into a parking lot.  McKee got out to tackle the suspect and was host in the face by the suspect. Officer Gilberta rant to his injured partner and started firing back at the suspect. Maneuvering between McKee and the gunman, Gilbert fired 11 times. The suspect died at the hospital later that night. McKee credits Gilbert with saving his life that night. 

2006 – Officer Robert Wuller, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Police Department

Officer Wuller put his life at risk to save a man, a woman, and two children from armed attackers in a North Philadelphia apartment. He was diving alone in his patrol car in April 2006 when his radio crackled to life. Within minutes, he was at an apartment building and could hear a woman and child screaming and blows being struck. A man rushed down the stairs but covered his face and raced out the back. Wuller called in a description and that suspect was apprehended a few blocks away. As backup arrived, Wuller broke the glass door and ran upstairs. He could hear threats and kicked in the door to find a masked man inside who turned on him with a gun. Another intruder was on the floor, repeatedly stabbing a victim bound in duct tape. Wuller fired at the first suspect while the second suspect came at him with a knife. When the SWAT team arrived moments later, the victim of the stabbing was alive but badly wounded. The victim’s girlfriend and two children also were rescued from the apartment. Both of the suspects Wuller had shot died at the scene; each had an extensive record of prior offenses.

2005 – Deputy Jennifer Fulford, Orange County, Florida, Sheriff’s Department

On May 5, 2004, three men forced their way into a woman’s car as she was preparing to drive her son to school and forced her into her house. Stranded with his two year old twin sisters, her eight year old son reached into his mother’s purse and used her cell phone to call 911. Two Orange County deputies responded, followed by Deputy Fulford and a trainee. Seeing police outside, the suspects sent the woman to tell them that everything was all right. Instead, she told them her family was under attack.  Fulford walked to the garage, followed by another deputy. Seconds later, a suspect appeared behind the van and started shooting at Fulford. She ducked behind the van while the second suspect shot her multiple times including her shooting arm. She lost feeling in her hand but managed to grab her gun with her left hand and continued firing. She killed one suspect and wounded another who then shot another deputy. Still on the floor of the garage, Fulford blacked out for a few seconds and was rushed to the hospital to be treated for multiple gunshot wounds. She recovered even though one bullet remains in her and was back on active duty less than four months later. At the crime scene, police found 341 pounds of marijuana and $54,000 in cash. 

2004 – Sergeant Marcus Young, Ukiah, California, Police Department

On the night of March 7, 2003, Sergeant Young volunteered to fill a patrol shift vacation. On his shift, Young, accompanied by Julian Covella, a high school student and police cadet, then 17, was called to a local Wal-Mart to arrest a shoplifter. During the arrest, the shoplifter’s boyfriend, a violent felon, approached Young and pulled a knife from his pocket. Young seized the felons’ arm and twisted it behind his back. The suspect pulled a gun and shot Young five times but his body armor stopped two bullets to his chest and saved his life. The suspect then stabbed the store’s unarmed security guard and ran toward the patrol car. Bleeding profusely and unable to draw his gun, he instructed the cadet, Covella, who had radioed for back up, to remove Young’s pistol from its holster and place it in Young’s left hand. Young fired four rounds, stopping the suspect before he could grab another firearm and begin shooting again. The suspect died later from his wounds but Young recovered thanks to the quick actions of Covella whom Young credits with saving his life. Covella is now a Spokane County Deputy Sheriff while Young works as a trainer for the FBI.

2003 – Lieutenant Scott Seekins, Lockport, New York, Police Department

Late on February 8, 2003, Lieutenant Seekins, a crime scene specialist, reported to document a shooting where a suspect had fired an AK-47 at a man whose girlfriend the suspect once dated. Then he fled. Seekins and two other officers ended up in a chase with the suspect whom they had heard was very unstable and wanted a shoot-out with police. Once cornered, the suspect opened fire through his windshield and shot one of the other officers. A K-9 officer appeared on the scene with an SUV and the suspect, still firing through the windshield, hit the K-9 officer’s car head-on. A shot hit the officer in the chest and the collision caused him a broken jaw. As the K-9 officer lay in the snow, Seekins fired back at the suspect with bullets flying over his head. After much more gun fire, during which Seekins protected his fellow officers, the suspect shot himself in the head. The two injured officers were taken to hospitals and survived.

2002 – Sergeant Chip Sunier, Indiana State Police

In June 2001, a 911-call come in on a Sunday afternoon. Four adults including two pregnant women and an infant were stranded on a boat with no propeller that was perched at the edge of a dam on the White River near Indianapolis. Initially, an attempted water rescue failed because the water was running too fast. Firefighters tried to reach them with a long ladder over the water but they couldn't reach the boaters. That's when Sgt. Sunier and a helicopter came in. Sunier stood on the skid of the helicopter as it got closer to the boat. The rescue harness was too big for the infant who had to be handed up to Sunier by his father over the water. After three more trips, all of the boaters were rescued. Sunier, a former Navy SEAL, retired but began working for the Indiana Department of Homeland Security to train police officers, firefighters, and citizens in water rescue techniques. 

2001 – Sergeant Joseph Farina, Newark, New Jersey, Police Department

On April 15, 2000, Sergeant Farina called the fire department after noticing that a building was on fire. He then entered the building without protective gear and saved two men from the smoke and flames. He went back in to bring 18 trapped residents to safety and joined the fire department in rescuing approximately 80 others. According to Deputy Fire Chief James Smith, the fire was very bad and could have been a fire chief’s worst nightmare. One person died in the fire and seven were injured. Without Farina’s quick actions, these numbers would have been worse. This was the third time in his career that Farina entered a burning building to save others. After the terrorist attacks on September 11, Farina spent time working at Ground Zero and at a Newark staging area.  

2000 – Officer Dennis Devitte, Las Vegas, Nevada, Police Department

Officer Devitte was enjoying a night out in December 1999 with several other police officers in a sports bar, watching a musical group whose members were police officers. Suddenly, three gunmen entered the bar and began firing. Devitte, the only officer armed at the time, drew his off-duty gun and began firing at one of the robbers. The suspect turned and began shooting directly at Devitte, who continued firing until a bullet to his knee forced him down. Devitte was shot eight times but was able to kill one of the suspects.  

1999 – Detective David Foster, Newark, New Jersey, Police Department

In November 1998, Detective David Foster, an 18-year veteran, was working in the Domestic Violence and Sexual Crimes Unit. Called to the hospital to help a rape victim, Foster worked quickly to get an arrest warrant out for the victim’s ex-boyfriend who was in violation of a restraining order. The victim wanted to spend the night at her father’s home but needed some items from her apartment so Foster agreed to accompany her. Walking into her apartment, they heard a noise and Foster stepped in front of the victim and called for backup. The victim’s ex-boyfriend was waiting inside the apartment and started shooting at Foster, hitting him several times. Foster returned fire, killing the ex-boyfriend. Foster was transported to the hospital and still has two bullets in him to this day. He retired in 1999.   

1998 – Trooper Charles M. West, New Hampshire State Police

In August 1998, a militant anti-government gunman was intent on settling a grudge in a remote New Hampshire town. The gunman initially shot Trooper Scott Philips and Leslie Lord before stealing Philips' cruiser to go to a local newspaper office. There, he killed Associate Judge Vickie Bunnel and Senior Editor Dennis Joos. Fleeing in the police cruiser, the gunman continued to shoot at law enforcement officers in New Hampshire and Vermont. Hours later, cornered in a wooded area, the gunman wounded two more law enforcement officers when Trooper West ran into the line of fire to save them. West and another officer exchanged gunfire with the gunman which helped them pinpoint his location. A SWAT team eventually moved in but thanks to West's courageous act, the two wounded officers survived.

1997 – Officer Thomas C. Harwood, Grant Park, Illinois, Police Department

Seeing two “suspicious-looking vehicles” occupied by teenagers speeding together through Grant Park at 4:30 AM on September 29, 1996, Officer Harwood put on his emergency lights to effect a stop. The driver of the first car, a stolen Mustang, pulled to the curb in a residential side street while the Suzuki sped off. As Harwood approached the driver of the Mustang to check his driver’s license and registration, the Suzuki’s driver made a U-turn two blocks away, gunned the engine and raced towards him at nearly 50 MPH. Harwood was knocked backward onto the rear panel of the Mustang and pinned between the vehicles. The Suzuki’s door mirror caught his left forearm, snapping the bones in several places. Bouncing off the Mustang’s trunk, he landed on his back in the road. Meanwhile, the Suzuki slammed into the patrol car. Struggling to his feet, Harwood pulled out his gun and ordered the dazed driver out of the car. He then radioed for backup and an ambulance. After cuffing both drivers, Harwood locked the two passengers in the backseat of his patrol car. The driver of the Suzuki asked him “Why aren’t you dead?” 

1996 – Multi-Jurisdictional: Corporal Regina Bonny, Midwest City, Oklahoma, Police Department; Special Agent David Schickendanz, Drug Enforcement Agency; Detective Sergeant Robert Campbell, Sergeant Rod Hill, Officer Jim Ramsey, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Police Department

On April 19, 1995, many heroes across multiple agencies around Oklahoma City came together with one goal – to save as many people from the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building which had just been bombed. Five in particular showed tremendous heroism. Two officers, Midwest City Corporal Bonny and DEA Special Agent Schickendanz were in the building when the car bomb exploded. Bonny, who was working undercover with the DEA at the time, was initially knocked unconscious by the blast. Despite injuries to her head and shoulders, she regained consciousness, was able to help two fellow DEA officers out of the building, and went then went back in to help others. Schnickendanz rescued himself and a fellow DEA officer from an elevator, which fell six floors after the blast, before returning to the building to rescue DEA colleagues. He then set up a command post in his car to help coordinate the law enforcement effort. Det. Sgt. Campbell, Sgt. Hill, and Officer Ramsey, 27, all of the Oklahoma City Police Department, had rushed to the scene and immediately started helping injured employees. They were told to leave the building because of a report of a second bomb but saw two women trapped on the seventh floor. The three officers stayed behind to help the women by creating a metal bridge and were able to get them to safety.  

1995 – Detective Arlene Beckles, New York, New York, Police Department

In February 1994, Detective Beckles was sitting under a hair dryer at a beauty salon when she noticed three people moving rapidly toward a corner of the room. Instinctively feeling that something was wrong, she sprang to action when two of the three pulled out firearms and began rifling through he purses and demanding jewelry. Risking her own life to save the lives of nearly 30 others, Beckles shot and wounded all three robbers – one of them fatally – within moments. The shop’s employees and patrons all escaped serious injury thanks to her actions.

1994 – Lieutenant Lloyd Prescott, Salt Lake City, Utah, Sheriff’s Department

In March 1994, a gunman jumped on a table at the Salt Lake City Library, pulled out a handgun and said he had a bomb. At the time, Lieutenant Prescott was in the library at a Toastmasters meeting and saw the gunman start herding hostages into a nearby conference room. Dressed in plainclothes and carrying a concealed weapon, he joined the line of hostages. During the 5 ½ hour standoff, the gunman made threats to shoot hostages and blow up the library while demanding money, gold, and a full presidential pardon. After the gunman told the hostages to draw lots to see who would be killed first, Prescott identified himself as a police officer. The gunman turned to shoot Prescott who shot the gunman four times and wrestled him to the ground – telling the hostages to get down. The SWAT team stormed the conference room and got all of the hostages safely out the building.

1993 – Sergeant Rory Tuggle, Las Vegas, Nevada, Metropolitan Police Department

After the acquittal of four Los Angeles police offers in the Rodney King trial, riots were erupting across the country. Las Vegas was no exception. As a crowd swelled out of Westside towards downtown, officers were mobilizing with Sergeant Tuggle in charge. Officers set up a skirmish line to keep the rioters contained. As rioters began to retreat, Tuggle and his partner, Officer Andy Ramos, saw a man being beaten and covered in blood. The officers went to stand guard over the man as attackers fled but the attackers came back. Tuggle and Ramos drew their weapons but did not fire. Within minutes, the mob scattered. Tuggle dispatched officers to handle each crisis. Rioters tried to lure first responders into ambushes with false alarms. Then real fires began to be set including one at the Nucleus Plaza Shopping Center. Firefighters fled as gunfire erupted and Tuggle moved in with 25 officers to try to restore safety. Unfortunately, the gunfire was too intense and the officers pulled back only to watch the fire burn. Later, Tuggle and his officers moved in to curb looting and secure the location. Only two people died during the riots and one officer was injured.  

1992 – Patrolman David Foumai, Honolulu, Hawaii, Police Department

While relaxing at home with his pregnant wife and two young daughters, Patrolman Foumai heard a loud bang outside of their apartment. After the second bang, they looked out the window of their apartment and saw a man wielding what looked like a shotgun and shooting at someone. After telling his wife and daughters to take cover, he grabbed his duty weapon and ran downstairs to help. He saw the suspect dragging a female by the hair to his truck with a shotgun pressed to her side. Not expecting an off-duty officer dressed only in shorts and a shirt without shoes, the suspect was trying to kidnap the woman, his ex-girlfriend, after just having shot her new boyfriend in the back. With Foumai not sure when backup was coming, he confronted the subject which gave the woman a chance to escape. The suspect pointed his shotgun at Foumai who shot the suspect once. The suspect later died of his injuries. The woman later stated that her ex-boyfriend, father of her five children, was planning to kill her and then himself. She was tremendously grateful for Foumai’s quick actions. At the time, Foumai’s wife was watching the incident and for a few minutes, thought the worst had had happened to her husband. A month later, she gave birth to a healthy baby boy who is now a Honolulu Police Officer also. Foumai will retire as a Sergeant in the Fall of 2016.   

1991- Officers Vernice Brown and Alan Johnson, Pompano Beach, Florida, Police Department

With their shift nearly over in the early morning hours of April 6, 1991, Officers Brown and Johnson were alerted by a witness of an assault in progress at gunpoint in an alley next to an apartment building. The two officers ran to the scene, shouted a warning at the suspect who then shoved the victim at them, fired two shots at the officers and ran. Brown and Johnson pursued the suspect who was firing back at them. After being shot once in the leg, the suspect set up a crude ambush for the officers. Johnson saw the ambush and was able to kill the suspect, who had a long list of convictions including kidnapping and aggravated assault. Minutes after the shootout, a crowd of more than 600 residents converged on the scene. Brown and Johnson, with the help of backup officers, were able to calm everyone down and assure them the shooting was justified. The crowd quietly dispersed and the neighborhood was calm again within 30 minutes of the shooting.

1990 – Officer Katherine Heller, U.S. Park Police, Washington, DC 

Officer Heller was the first woman to receive the Police Officer of the Year Award on its 25th Anniversary. On a February day across from the White House in Washington, D.C., Heller was on foot patrol and talking with a colleague, Officer Scott Dahl. As Dahl was leaving, a man approached them saying he had just been hit with a brick by a homeless individual. Dahl went to investigate while Heller helped the injured man. The homeless man attacked Dahl and Heller responded to his calls for help and beat the attacker back. While the man seemed to back away, he had grabbed Dahl’s gun. The two officers ran for cover. The man shot at Dahl while Heller fired and hit the man but he didn’t flinch. She fired again and fatally wounded the attacker. She was back on patrol 2 ½ months after the incident and continues to work with the U. S. Park Police today.   

1989 – Officer Gregory Jaglowski, Chicago, Illinois, Police Department

In September 1988, Officer Jaglowski and his partner Officer Irma Ruiz were at a local elementary school to pick up a student with disciplinary problems. While the officers were on-site, a gunman who had already killed two people at an auto parts store started firing at three people outside of the school, seriously wounding a school custodian. The custodian, who later died, stumbled into the school looking for help when he was followed in by the suspect. Ruiz was killed inside the school and Jaglowski was injured but able to kill the suspect before he could injure any teachers or students. In February 1990, Jaglowski was appointment as the Assistant Commissioner of Security and Safety for the Chicago Department of Aviation and went on to become the Director of Homeland Security at the Cook County Sheriff’s Office.  

1988 – Sergeant Richard Beckman, Cloverdale, California, Police Department

Sergeant Beckman was called to a convenience store robbery where the suspect, a recently paroled murderer, had tried to run down one officer and had taken a 17-year-old hostage. Beckman realized he had one chance to save the hostage and fired a single shot, killing the gunman instantly. Two years later, Beckman and the teen he saved worked side-by-side as volunteers at the Cloverdale Fire Department.

1987 – Sergeant Kenneth Pollock, Maryland State Police

While on patrol in March 1987, Sergeant Pollock was driving an unmarked car back to the state police barracks when he heard radio calls about a chase. He joined the pursuit and saw the suspect start going the wrong way down a major interstate. While he was able to stop oncoming traffic going towards the suspect, a young family in a stopped van could not get out of the car in time. Pollock did the only thing he could think of – he put his car in the path of the suspect careening towards them at 90 mph. The suspect hit Pollock’s car, missed the van but hit a second car, injuring the occupants and Pollock. Pollock retired in 1989 and went into the private sector.

1986 – Special Agent Edmundo Mireles, Federal Bureau of Investigation

In April 1986, a search for two men suspected in a series of violent bank and armored car robberies ended in an incredibly intense gun battle in a neighborhood just outside of Miami. . Outgunned by the two suspects, Special Agent Mireles and five other agents were attempting to capture the suspects in residential area adjacent to Miami. Bullets began flying before the agents could get out of their cars. Even though Mireles was badly wounded, he returned fire, killing the two suspects. After killing two FBI agents and wounding five agents, the suspects tried to flee in the fallen officer’s car. With a shattered left arm and a wound to the head, Mireles kept firing and was able to kill both suspects before they escaped. Mireles continued to work with the FBI after the incident.

1985 - Commander William M. Rathburn, Los Angeles, California, Police Department

Commander Rathburn was tasked with keeping the 1984 Summer Olympic Game safe and spent five years planning the vast security network necessary to ward off terrorist attacks. At stake during the 16-day period of the Games were the lives of 5.8 million spectators and 11,000 athletes, coaches, and trainers from 140 countries. During the Games, they were spread over about 150 miles of Southern California at 22 Olympic sites. Through meticulous planning, he brought together more than 50 independent law enforcement agencies – including the FBI, the Secret Service, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, and the California Highway Patrol – to create one smoothly operating cooperative team, ready to respond at a moment’s notice. While more than 100 threats came in before and during the Games, none of them came to fruition. Once the Games were over, he became the Deputy Chief of LAPD and then Chief of Police for the Dallas, Texas, Police Department. He left Dallas in 1993 to become the Director of Security for the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Summer Games and continues to work in the private sector.

1984 – Captain Richard Z. Voorhees, Bridgewater Township, New Jersey, Police Department

After counseling and befriending hundreds of children, particularly runaways who want to come back home, Captain Voorhees had an idea. Earlier in 1984, he suggested to Trailways Lines, Inc., that the bus company offer runaways a free ride home from anywhere in the country. In June 1984, in response to his proposal, Trailways introduced “Operation: Home Free,” a national program that gives runaways the chance to get home with no questions asked. In the program’s first two months, 543 young people were reunited with their families, and the program was averaging 10 reunions a day in early 1985. Greyhound Lines bought out Trailways and continues the program today as a partnership with the National Runaway Safeline. The program has also expanded into Australia. He was the Chief of Police in Bridgewater Township from 1987-2000 and continues to be active in the community.

1983 – Trooper Roy Boleyn, Kentucky State Trooper

When Trooper Boleyn and two other officers went to serve a warrant at an Eastern Kentucky home, they never envisioned the day would end as it did. The suspect ambushed the officers and killed Parrish County Sheriff’s Deputy Alex Eversole. Boleyn and his fellow officers returned fire. Boleyn was the first to enter the house and despite wearing a bulletproof vest was critical injured. During the ensuing gun battle, two other officers were wounded and a resident of the house was killed. Boleyn was left a paraplegic by his wounds but is credited for saving the lives of the two other officers by grabbing a shotgun and firing four rounds into the assailant who had just wounded him.

1982 – Officer Ed Weaver, San Francisco, California, Police Department

Officer Weaver served as a San Francisco motorcycle officer who in 1982 made 25 times as many arrest for drunken driving as the average police officer, participated in 250 accident investigations, and handed out 720 traffic citations. This sixteen-year veteran won six medals of valor and had to wait 11 years to become part of the all-volunteer motorcycle squad. He worked during the day as a bank teller where his timely interventions in two robberies won him departmental commendations.  He retired as a Sergeant after 36 years and passed away on November 14, 2014.

1981 – Special Agent Dennis V.N. McCarthy; Special Agent Timothy J. McCarthy; Special Agent in Charge Jerry S. Parr; Assistant to Special Agent in Charge Raymond A. Shaddick, United States Secret Service

On March 30, 1981, four Secret Service agents working together as a team saved the life of U.S. President Ronald Reagan. As President Regan was leaving the Washington Hilton via a VIP exit that day, six shots rang out. Special Agent (SA) D. McCarthy dove towards the gunman and was the first to reach the gunman and subdue him. SA T. McCarthy put himself between the President and the gunman and was hit with a bullet immediately – along with Press Secretary James Brady and Officer Thomas K. Delahanty of the Metropolitan, Washington, D.C., Police Department. Special Agent in Charge (SAIC) Parr, the head of the team, and Assistant to the Special Agent in Charge (ATSAIC) Shaddick immediately secured President Reagan. Parr pushed President Reagan into the limousine while Shaddick secured the rear. They were able to get President Reagan in the car with Parr at his side and Shaddick in the follow-up vehicle. Initially, Parr could not find a wound on the President and radioed to Shaddick that they were heading back to the White House. Within four or five seconds of that call, President Reagan began complaining of difficulty breathing and started coughing up blood. Parr told the driver to head to the hospital immediately and kept talking to President Reagan on the drive. Parr radioed ahead to setup a protective perimeter around the hospital for the President and helped President Reagan walk into the hospital. Thanks to the quick thinking and teamwork of these four agents, President Reagan survived his wounds and went on to serve two full terms. All four agents received the U.S. Secret Service Valor Award, the highest honor awarded by the U.S. Secret Service for their extraordinary heroics that day. SA D. McCarthy retired in 1984 and passed away on October 31, 1993. SA T. McCarthy survived his wounds and is currently the Chief of Police for the Orland Park, Illinois, Police Department. SAIC Parr retired in 1985, became a pastor and passed away on October 9, 2015. ATSAIC Shaddick retired in 1998 and worked in the private sector before retiring again 2008. 

1980 - Officer James E. Wolsch, Austin, Texas, Police Department

Labeled a “supernarc” by his Austin colleagues, undercover narcotics Officer Wolsch worked the seamy underworld of heroin and speed in an area described by then Police Chief Frank Dyson as a “major stockpile center” for drugs in the Southwest. Much of Wolsch’s undercover work involved controlled buying of drugs from dealers in an effort to become familiar in the underworld and sniff out the individual behind large-scale operations and he alone accounted for 50 percent of all department narcotics cases. His reputation for honesty was well known throughout the area and not only made him a valuable witness in court but also made him credible to informants. Such integrity was not rewarded on the streets and at least one drug ring hired an assassin to murder Wolsch. He traded in his undercover role to handle drug detection dogs at Austin's airport.

1979 – Sergeant Myron J. Lofgren, Minnesota State Patrol

Sergeant Lofgren created an innovative accident investigation procedure that helped him become an expert court witness in fatal accident investigations. By using complex mathematical formulas, he developed evidence of liability and by 1979, his services had been requested by 16 other states and the U. S. Department of Transportation. His meticulous attention to detail – including interviewing witnesses and victims, and analyzing skid marks, vehicle weight, extent of damage, braking ability, distance vehicle is thrown following impact, road and weather conditions, traffic conditions, and other information – helped him create unique formulae to determine the accident cause, which at the time, was revolutionary. He conducted training classes in his methods and composed a 102-page textbook that resembled a college algebra manual. His devotion to detail earned him a reputation among defense attorneys as a tough witness to refute. He left law enforcement to train other agencies in this model and still today serves as a consultant to agencies and insurance companies.

1978 – Sergeant Robert A. DiMartini, New York City, New York, Police Department

At the time, Sergeant DiMartini was the most decorated police officer in the history of the New York City Police Department, with 191 department recognitions including the Combat Cross and Honorable Mention medals. DiMartini led a special, handpicked night patrol squad. During a seven-month period in 1978, his team averaged 70.5 arrests per officer as compared to a 2.4 arrest average per officer for the rest of the Bronx force during the same time period. Another product of his team’s work was the Senior Citizen Robbery Unit in the Bronx – a prototype for the nation at the time – which gives concentrated protection to a highly vulnerable segment of the population. When he retired as a lieutenant in 1989, he remained the city’s most decorated officer with 475 awards – and still is to this day.  

1977 – Officer Greg MacAleese, Albuquerque, New Mexico, Police Department

Officer MacAleese was concerned with the number of unsolved cases in Albuquerque and as a former AP reporter, he also understood the power of the media and thought they could help law enforcement solve crimes. His idea was to create a fund that would pay cash for clues leading to the arrest and indictment of crime perpetrators. Thus, “Crime Stoppers” was born which allowed citizens to phone in tips to a special number at police headquarters with anonymity guaranteed by law enforcement. In its first 11 months of operations Crime Stoppers paid out approximately $11,000 in amounts ranging from $50 to $2,000, in return for which 261 cases, including rape, robbery, and burglary, were solved and $286,000 worth of stolen property was recovered. Most significant was a 27.6% reduction in crime in Albuquerque. Today, Crime Stoppers programs can be found across the U.S., Canada, South America, and the Caribbean, Europe, Australia, and the South/Western Pacific. MacAleese left law enforcement to create his own production company to help tell crime stories and continue to help solve crimes.

1976 – Sergeant James Hopkins, Dayton, Ohio, Police Department

Reaching community members was the focus of Sergeant Hopkins 90-minute weekly radio question and answer program called “Buzz the Fuzz” on WDAO radio. During his program, he fielded a variety of questions with great expertise from Dayton residents of every age bracket, running the gamut from the far out to the almost frightening including one caller who asked “Can I legally kill a man who is stealing my property?”  His special skills were in the area of bringing people and police together to evolve policy guidelines for the police – which would later be a key element of modern community policing initiatives. He retired in 1982.

1975 – Officer Larry Ostrowski, Cook County, Illinois, Sheriff’s Department

Officer Ostrowski and his wife, Patricia, taught self-defense to thousands of women and girls entirely on their own time.

1974 – Officer Howard G. Skillings, St. Paul, Minnesota, Police Department

Officer Skillings dedicated himself to helping disadvantaged youngsters by helping build recreational facilities for them. He retired in 1977 and died a year later.  

1973 – Detective Gerry Green & Detective Walter Clerke, Miami, Florida, Police Department

Detectives Green and Clerke were plainclothes detectives in Miami who not only worked together but were also wounded together. The two were part of a federally funded pilot project aimed at reducing robberies. As a result, Miami’s robbery rate had been cut 10 percent thanks in part to their hard work. Green went on to help implement the county’s first Domestic Violence Intervention Unit in a major police agency, which became rated by the Department of Justice as “an exemplary unit.” He retired after 32 years of service. Clerke resigned in the mid-1970’s and went into the private sector.

1972 – Patrolman Jake Miller, New Orleans, Louisiana, Police Department

Patrolman Miller and his K-9 partner, Rebel, chalked up an impressive record of apprehending criminals, saving lives and serving the public. He retired from the force in 1982.

1971 – Patrolman Wesley Ridlon, Portland, Maine, Police Department

As a police officer and school teacher, Patrolman Ridlon related to the youth of Portland on their level. He conducted “rap” sessions with teenagers in the city’s schools, playgrounds, homes, and institutions while speaking honestly about drugs, the “establishment”, and other problems facing teenagers in the early 1970s. In 1970, he delivered 600 talks to Portland high schools and established himself as a friend to the 17,500 school-children of Portland. Ridlon went on to become the Sheriff of Cumberland County, Maine until 1998. 

1970 – Sergeant Paul E. Fabian, Rotterdam, New York, Police Department

Sergeant Fabian worked in the field of narcotics – his particular field of interest was in helping reform juvenile drug users. He helped get rid of drug pushers by giving teen drug-users immunity in exchange for information. Fabian retired as a lieutenant in 1982 and served eight years as a Schenectady County legislator. He passed away on July 15, 1995.

1969 – Sergeant Weston S. Robinson, Manteca, California, Police Department

Without regard to his safety, Sergeant Robinson saved the life of a motorist being attacked by a 40-member motorcycle gang which had been passing through Manteca, a town east of San Francisco. Spotting the victim being savagely beaten by the group, Robinson entered the fight singlehanded. Refusing to draw his weapon for fear it would be grabbed and a shooting take place, he held his positon until help arrived. He later left the Manteca Police Department to head the campus police at the University of California, Riverside.

1968 – Officer Donald E. Rask, Denver, Colorado, Police Department

While on duty, Officer Rask was flagged down and told that an apartment complex was on fire. He immediately went to the location and ran into the three-story apartment building. He carried out a 21-year-old man who was unconscious and was able to resuscitate him before going back into the building. He then brought out a woman and her infant safely while returning a third time where he found an elderly couple still sleeping in a second floor room. Rask was able to get the couple out to safety. Rask continued through the ranks of the Denver Police Department to become a sergeant who headed the department’s bomb and fugitive units. He retired in 1992 and worked for the local courts in Sulpher Springs, Colorado. He passed away on March 10, 2010.

1967 – Detective William Copeland, Phoenix, Arizona, Police Department

Detective Copeland was investigating a brutal assault and burglary gang in 1967 when one of the members called his home, threating the lives of his wife and children. Copeland stepped up his investigations despite the threat and was instrumental in arresting key leaders of the gang. His family was unharmed. He died in 1970 in an auto accident.

1966 – Sergeant Philip Dwyer, St. Louis, Missouri, Police Department

Sergeant Dwyer was a homicide detective, PTA president, part-time athletic coach, founder of a Boy Scout Troop, father of six, grandfather to four, and nemesis of hundreds of criminals. His chief at the time, Curtis Broston, expressed pride in his entire force and Dwyer. “If you had a couple of thousand Phil Dwyer’s, you’d have quite a force.” He retired in 1974 as a 42-year veteran and passed away October 3, 1997.