Archive for Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ceremony honors police officers for heroic efforts

December 16, 2006


They ran into the fire to save lives.

Five Lawrence police officers received the Medal of Valor, the department's highest award, Friday night for their efforts to save residents of burning buildings.

Four officers were involved in rescue efforts at the Boardwalk Apartments last fall.

Officers Max Miller, Todd Polson and Ryan Sayler and Sgt. Damon Thomas worked through multiple explosions near the burning building to launch a full-scale rescue effort to help residents, including those jumping from the second and third stories, said Police Chief Ron Olin.

Three Lawrence residents died in the massive fire, but the "loss would have been far greater without" their efforts, Olin said.

The officers received a standing ovation Friday night inside a ballroom at the Springhill Suites by Marriott, 1 Riverfront Plaza, during the Lawrence Police Department Graduation and Awards Ceremony.

Officer Shannon Riggs, who has served four years on the force, also received the Medal of Valor for braving dense flames and smoke to rescue a despondent man on April 28 at the SouthPointe Apartments, 2166 W. 26th St.

Olin said Riggs pulled the man up from the floor and escorted him to safety. Riggs then helped officers evacuate other residents from the building.

Capt. Dan Affalter, head of the investigations division, received the Meritorious Service Award for his 30 years of work on the force and efforts in the community, including his "get-it-done style of work," Olin said.

For their work on response and rescue efforts at the tragic Sept. 17 fire at the Glover family home, 1205 N.J., which killed five occupants, Officers Jack Lichlyter, Harold Grady and Vincent Casagrande all were awarded the Distinguished Service Award.

December 2006: Officer Shannon Riggs, left, receives the Medal of Valor from Police Chief Ron Olin during the Police Awards and Graduation ceremony at the Springhill Suites. Riggs and several other officers received awards Friday night for their acts of service.

December 2006: Officer Shannon Riggs, left, receives the Medal of Valor from Police Chief Ron Olin during the Police Awards and Graduation ceremony at the Springhill Suites. Riggs and several other officers received awards Friday night for their acts of service.

Commendation Awards were given to:

¢ Officer Willie Brown for his 10 years volunteering as an after-school seventh-grade youth football coach.

¢ Officer David Ernst for helping direct the initial response and assisting with the evacuation effort at the Boardwalk Apartments fire.

¢ School Resource Officer Eric Barkley for performing the Heimlich maneuver on a 14-year-old student who was choking during lunch Sept. 27 at Southwest Junior High School.

¢ Officer Sam Harvey for grabbing a suicidal man who was hanging from the Kansas River Bridge on Oct. 4 and pulling him to safety.

¢ Officer Michael Ramsey for escorting a woman who had been sleeping on Oct. 4 from her burning apartment, 1548 Eddingham Drive.

During the graduation ceremony, the department recognized 11 new officers who had completed a 23-week training session and will begin patrol with field training officers soon.


Sandman 11 years, 6 months ago

Lawrence's Fire Department practices a "surround and drown" policy that does not emphasize rescues.

Fire Departments in surrounding cities know this and actually joke about it.

icallbullshiat 11 years, 6 months ago

Congratulations to these Lawrence Police Officers for a job well done.

A few observations - Why are these police officers having to perform so many fire rescues?? I understand they are there to serve and protect but where the hell is our fire department?? We have spent how many millions of dollars in the past three years building them fancy new buildings to house their newly painted red fire engines in order to strategically place them throughout our city. Now let's educate them on how to put water on a fire and perform rescues...

Secondly, why is Olin waiting so long to acknowledge these officers for their actions?? My gosh, the Boardwalk fire was over a year ago. What kind of leadership does this display?? Can you imagine rushing into a fire, saving numerous lives, and not receive any type of recognition from your boss for over a year... piss poor leadership. Sheriff McGovern, who does not have a Ph.D. in developmental psychology, at least knows the importance of recognizing his deputies shortly after the incident occurred.

I would only assume the morale at the police department, in part at the street level, is relatively stagnant due to a lack of recognition these officers deserve. If there are any LPD officers out there who would like to comment on this, I would be interested in hearing them. Just how far removed is Olin from the street level officer?

Sigmund 11 years, 6 months ago

Add my congratulations to these officers and to the department in which they serve. Police officers are often the first to respond to both fire and non-fire emergencies in Lawrence (unlike many larger towns where LE is more spread out and possibly busier). This takes nothing away from the Lawrence Fire Department which is naturally going to take longer to respond with more men and special equipment to fight a fire.

I imagine that Olin privately recognized these officers performance long ago, as did their supervisors and peers. However, why Olin waited so long to do so publicly is puzzling. I have heard nothing about moral being low at the LPD. Like most large organizations I would assume that many factors, not just the man at the top, would impact officer moral. Equally important would be the attitudes of the immediate supervisors and peers.

Again, congratulations to these officers. I can assure you that the vast majority of Lawrencians recognize and appreciate the efforts of both the LPD and LFD in keeping this community safe.

kpitrl 11 years, 6 months ago

The reason that police officers can be at the scene of a fire before firefighters arrive is that they are already moving in their patrol cars when they receive the alarm. A firefighter has to receive the alarm, put on the proper protective clothing, and then respond from their station. A police officer is already patrolling in a moving vehicle and does not stop to change clothes before responding. Depending on where the call is located, a police officer could arrive at a fire scene about 5 minutes before the fire dept. arrives.

useta 11 years, 6 months ago

The cops derserve to be recognized, but also, that's their job. You should expect that heroic behavior from them. What about the young men who really acted out of heroic behavior, and started banging on doors to wake up others. My nephew was one of them, and as I am around him (which isn't often since I live out of town now), you can tell how it has affected him. He's scarred if you will, for life over it. He really doesn't want the medal of the year over it, but just to have a sense of security. I know they were recognized immediately through the Indian community, and were counseled because of the guilt of the ones who didn't make it. But I don't recall anyone else saying thanks. After they were cleared of any wrong doing, which took a few weeks, then they were just forgotten by the police dept. Anyway, I just love my nephew, and hope he can forgive, and grow and understand that he did do a good job too. Thanks.

JHAWKGURL 11 years, 6 months ago

Thank you to these officers for their heroism and thank you to their loved ones that worry about them everyday that they leave for work! Although some of the jerks that respond to this think that this is "JUST" their is news flash to you yahoos....IT WAS their CHOICE to be an officer and I dont see you doing it!! SO THANK YOU AND GOD BLESS EACH AND EVERYONE of you officers on and off of the streets!!!! Some of you need to realize that even though these officers wear a uniform that there are times when they are not in uniform but they always honor the badge and when they are OFF duty they still think like an officer and act like one when touble prevails and their help is needed. Someday one of you JUST MIGHT need their help...they may very well save your eat your words. THANK YOU LADIES AND GENTLEMEN!!!

useta 11 years, 6 months ago

Since you quoted me, I assume you are calling me a "jerk". I hope you feel better now.

Sandman 11 years, 6 months ago

Fortunately, the blue wall of silence keeps them from talking about the corrosive smoke coming from the water plant.

Right, Cynthia?

doc1 11 years, 6 months ago

Smitty. You sir, are obviously mistaken. Believe what you want. Thats fine. It leaves normal people something to laugh at.

doc1 11 years, 6 months ago

By the way I should have thanked all those officers. Job well done. Most of us do appreciate you. I was a victim of an auto burglary last may. Officer Saylor was the one that took my report. He was very professional and through a long investigation and talking with numerous people and he arrested the bad guy. I was very pleased to deal with this Officer. To all of you thank you for your help.

paladin 11 years, 6 months ago

Pomp and circumstance do not an honorable person make. That comes from empathy and compassion and from fitting the rules to the people and the situations as they happen. Fine officers are fine people first. It seems that, given the current mindset of the LPD, that is not what is valued most by Ron and his regime.

Charles L. Bloss, Jr. 11 years, 6 months ago

It's morale. These people certainly deserved recognition for their efforts, whether it is their job or not! Thank you, Lynn

JHAWKGURL 11 years, 6 months ago

nope wasnt quoting you useta, I can just forsee all the people coming on here who will think that "thanking"our officers for a job well done is out of the question.......If I were going to quote someone I would call them out by name...not my style. I have been a cops daughter for 33 years and I know how people are.... thank YOU!!!

JHAWKGURL 11 years, 6 months ago

Useta, Just another addition to my post that I left off... I think it is very very heroic what your nephew did and I hope that if that kind of tragedy ever happens to me or my loved ones that there are people like him. THank God for him and bless him. There very well may have been many more deaths if it was not for him.

BlackVelvet 11 years, 6 months ago

"No moral problems in the lpd? So why such a high attrition rate to require 11 new recruits at once? As far as no word on moral problems, it's because they move on and are obligated to the blue wall of silence."

Uh, Smitty....a bunch of LPD Officers RETIRED. That's a big reason they have 11 new recruits. People retire, others get promoted, leaving vacancies in the lower ranks. Sorry to burst your bubble...NOT

AmyR 11 years, 6 months ago

Cynthia (SMITTY) can you say one positive thing about the LPD?

KansasGirl82 9 years, 8 months ago

I have something positive but it is inappropriate since the guy is now married...

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