BULLHEAD CITY — The Bullhead City Police Department on Wednesday recognized employees and volunteers for extraordinary and, sometimes, courageous efforts during the year ending this past September.
Police Chief Brian Williamson explained that for the people involved with the department the mission never stops because operations occur around the clock. But the awards ceremony “recognizes a small number of the things you do.”
Wiliiamson pointed out that these awards are given based on the recommendations of employees.
“It’s even better that your peers recognize your work,” he said.
Named as Police Officer of the Year was Andrew Sevillano. Civilian Employee of the Year was Alyson LaCasse.
Sevillano has been with the department since 2004. He worked as a school resource officer at Fox Creek Junior High School for 10 years and earned a reputation for being positive role model to students there.
He joined the Bureau of Criminal Investigations in 2015. Sevillano is a member of the department’s Crisis Negotiation Team and is highly adept at working with and interviewing children. He’s the president of Police Officers Association and Shop with a Cop Board. And, he was the 2011 Police Officer of the Year.
Sevillano also coaches youth sports and is involved in other community groups.
LaCasse joined the police department’s Bureau of Animal Care and Welfare as a shelter support worker in 2011 and became an ACW officer in 2014. She has been involved with several high-profile animal hoarding and neglect cases and, according to the department, brings to the job compassion, knowledge and tenacity. She also does her best to motivate and encourage coworkers. A Topock native, she enjoys hunting in her free time.
Medals of Honor went to Officers Jason Biggers and Steven Osborne. These awards are given as a result of events in which the recipient was at risk of serious injury or even loss of life.
Biggers was at the scene of a domestic violence call when a suspect pulled a knife and attempted to use it on him. He used lethal force to protect himself. The suspect survived.
Osborne had a suspect point a firearm at him and also needed to use defensive lethal force, then had the presence of mind to provide the suspect first aid until medical assistance arrived.
The Citizen Medal of Valor recipient Dustin Hubbard was recognized for his efforts in providing help to a young man being held up out of the water. The off-duty flight-certified nurse flagged down a boat and performed CPR until paramedics arrived.
Personnel units were recognized for their combined efforts in response to specific events. Specialists and dispatchers as well as sworn personnel were cited for such incidents as when a man was holed up inside his home threatening to use a firearm as well as claimed to have a bomb; tracked down and apprehended suspects only about 90 minutes after a report of an alarm going off by such means as using a footprint left at the scene; responded to and investigated a mass casualty vehicle accident; and, performed meritoriously in a lethal force incident.
These were some of the other extraordinary efforts recognized Wednesday.
Det. Brandon Grasse worked tirelessly to prove that a baby initially said to be sick was actually being seriously abused.
Emergency dispatchers Karen Clark and Kimberlee Nelson-Hassey were able to trace the location of a runaway teen by following the route created as she traveled and used her electronic device. The girl was found before she reached New York City.
Officer Eric Cabrera created a makeshift tourniquet to prevent a young man from bleeding to death.
Melody LeMaster, a senior emergency services dispatcher, took a call, then opted to take action to help when a resident inquired about a condition notice on her property. The caller lived alone and was disabled, unemployed and lived on a limited income. They paid someone $200 to do the work but that person never showed up. LeMaster rounded-up helpers and they went to the person’s residence and did the work themselves over the course of several days.
Law enforcement personnel from Simi Valley, Calif., were impressed that employees of the BCHPD were able to search inside three storage units to find evidence related to a 1970s-era cold case within 13 hours “on a hot day in July.” The three responsible for combing through a massive amount of items to quickly find what was requested were Cpl. Sean Watson and forensic specialists Julie Crook and Michele Neufeld.
Susan Gage, an office assistant, has been ensuring that information is available as dispatchers and officers require it to work on cases through a painstaking transfer process.
The department’s volunteer auxiliary unit was recognized for their myriad efforts to help keep free up officers to focus on patrolling and investigations. They conduct patrols of parking lots around the city and issue warnings to people who do such things as park in handicapped spaces. They also work traffic control at accidents, parades and other special events, help to search for missing people and even assist with office tasks — among other things.
Williamson observed that some of the auxiliary members have been volunteering with the department longer than most of the employees have worked there.
The department also recognizes the efforts of community members, such as with the Outstanding Citizenship Award. For example, William Devore and Michael Montgomery broke up a brutal fight. Without their intervention, a victim who received life threatening injuries might have been killed. And Layela Smith, though only age 11, grabbed the steering wheel of her father’s car because he passed out while driving on North Oatman Road. Smith controlled the vehicle until her father’s feet moved off of the pedals and the vehicle could be stopped.
Karole Finkelstein, employees of Contemporary Services Corp. (CSC), and employees at Findlay Chevrolet, Buick and GMC received meritorious citizenship awards; Finkelstein for helping present so many department community events; CSC employees for assisting with river patrols each summer and, specifically, for responding to an event in the water and doing their best to assist the victim; and Findlay employees for providing assistance to victims of a serious vehicle accident in which several people were ejected.
Years of Service and Safe Driving Awards were also given out.
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