Officers honoured for valour, commitment to public safety

Janet Austin

AT the 38th annual Police Honours Night at Government House on Thursday, 114 law enforcement members were recognized for their bravery and dedication.

Police officers from around the province put their lives on the line to ensure British Columbians from all walks of life are safe.

“It takes a special kind of person to serve in law enforcement, those who know the dangers and challenges of their profession but remain committed to serve with pride and never shy away from their duty,” said Mike Farnworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General. “Tonight’s honourees are examples of that commitment in action and on behalf of all British Columbians, we thank officers just like them all across the province for their immeasurable contributions to public safety.”

Lt. Gov. Janet Austin and Farnworth presented awards to officers of all ranks from municipal departments and the RCMP for their bravery in life-saving incidents, their devotion above and beyond the call of duty and their work to make B.C.’s communities safer. Some of this year’s recipients included:

* a constable from Delta who, while off duty, intervened and apprehended a male who was stabbing a female with a large kitchen knife.

* an investigative team that spent 20 months in a gruelling investigation to remove international drug traffickers from the streets;

* officers from Nanaimo who enlisted bystanders to help lift a motor vehicle and extract a woman being asphyxiated under the engine block;

* members from North Cowichan / Duncan who rescued a woman trapped in a car hanging off a riverbank;

* an officer from Vancouver who, while off duty, pursued and apprehended an armed male who had broken into her residence;

* a member from Abbotsford who, while off duty, traversed 76 metres (250 feet) down a steep embankment to give first aid to an injured motorcyclist; and

* officers from Oceanside whose persistent pursuit through dense bush ensured the arrest of a prolific offender.

“Those recognized tonight have demonstrated exemplary courage and conviction,” Austin said. “It is an honour to hear the stories of these brave men and women, who serve British Columbians often at the risk of their own lives. We thank them for their service and acknowledge all who support them to do such impactful work for the province.”

In all, 30 officers received the award of valour, the highest award for a police officer in B.C. These officers exhibited exceptional courage, regardless of personal safety, in an attempt to save or protect others from harm.

In addition, 84 officers were feted with honours for meritorious service, recognizing exemplary performance that answered the call to service in exceptional ways.

Quick Facts:

* Police Honours Night recognizes members of independent municipal police forces, the RCMP, First Nations, Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit and transit police services who have acted in an exemplary manner.

* In all, more than 9,000 members of these services deliver policing throughout B.C.

* Representatives from the B.C. Association of Chiefs of Police, the B.C. Association of Municipal Chiefs of Police, the RCMP and the ministry’s Policing and Security Branch comprise a committee that selected the recipients.

AWARDS OF VALOUR:

Delta Police Department

Acting Sgt. John-Paul Jasmins – while off duty, intervened and apprehended a male who was stabbing a female with a large kitchen knife.

Const. Paul Gibson – used exceptional judgement while dealing with a distraught male armed with a knife.

Vancouver Police Department

Sgt. Al Kuniss and Const. Vincent Martin – used exceptional judgement while dealing with a violent, mentally ill male armed with a knife.

Const. Teena Schneider – while off duty, pursued and apprehended an armed male who had broken into her residence.

Constables Jennifer Talkkari and Ryan Young – extracted an unresponsive male from a burning vehicle.

Victoria Police Department

Constables Kevin Nystedt and Tristan Williams – removed a resistant suspect of a domestic dispute and extinguished the fire he had started in his residence.

Ashcroft Detachment

Constables Daniel Caston (with Central Interior Traffic Services), Cortney Hodges, Lee Taylor, and Nicholas Theoret – rescued several motorists who were trapped by several landslides along Highway 99.

Burnaby Detachment

Sgt. Stacey Rogers – extracted an unconscious, suicidal male from a burning vehicle.

Campbell River Detachment

Const. Nicholas Underhill – while off duty, de-escalated and followed a volatile male who had pointed a loaded handgun at the constable’s head.

Kamloops Detachment

Cpl. Terry Harink (retired) – while off duty, pursued an armed and violent suspect who had assaulted two neighbours.

Lower Mainland District Emergency Response Team

Const. Matt Janssens (now with Pacific Region Training Centre) – entered the residence of an active shooter to perform a hostage rescue.

Nanaimo Detachment

Name withheld – while off duty, attempted to save a suicidal male from drowning in Westwood Lake.

New Hazelton Detachment

Cpl. Fraser Bjornson (now with Williams Lake Detachment) and Const. Devon Slade – climbed down a steel suspension cable to rescue a suicidal female from a construction walkway under a bridge.

North Cowichan / Duncan Detachment

Cpl. Stephen Merrick, Constables Mathew Banfield (now with Saanich Police Department), Megan Kowalewich, Keith Lansdowne and Thomas Peters – rescued a trapped woman from an unstable vehicle that was in danger of sliding into the Cowichan River.

Oceanside Detachment

Constables Ali Dakhlallah, Kendal Dean Oliver, Jordan Reid and Ryan Rooke – entered a dangerous collision scene to provide first aid to a motorcyclist.

Port Hardy Detachment

Cpl. Christopher Voller – jumped on board a moving fishing vessel in order to gain control of the vessel and assess the unresponsive operator.

AWARDS OF MERITORIOUS SERVICE:

Abbotsford Police Department

Det. Alex Wood – while off duty, traversed 76 metres (250 feet) down a steep embankment to render first aid to an injured motorcyclist.

Port Moody Police Department

Const. Rob DeGoey – rescued a suicidal female from Sasamat Lake.

Vancouver Police Department

Insp. Lisa Byrne, Sergeants Astrid Bonter and Rajprit Mander, Constables Darren Bayne, Jennifer Jarvis, Rob Mitchelson, Andrea Sherry, Tracy Stables, Det. Constables John Pyper and Jennifer White and Name Withheld – exceptional performance during a complex sexual assault investigation involving nine victims and two accused.

Sgt. Christian Lowe, Det. Constables Ross Clarke, Eve Koenning, Chad Mah, Craig Reynolds, Rachel Van den Kerkhof and Alice Yee, Const. Aida Rodriguez – exceptional performance during a cross-border child abduction investigation.

Constables Byron Capers and Courtney Emerslund – saved an unresponsive suicidal female from the waters off Canada Place.

Const. Ryan Diguangco – assisted in extracting an unresponsive male from a burning vehicle.

Constables Kam Liddar and Peter Swan – assisted in apprehending a violent, mentally ill male who had attacked another police officer.

Constables Andrew Penner and Name Withheld – provided life-saving first aid to a male with a self-inflicted stab wound.

Victoria Police Department

Const. Kelsi Yoxall – performed life-saving first aid to a suicidal male with a self-inflicted neck wound.

Campbell River Detachment

Name Withheld – searched through dense bush and heavy wet snow for a distraught male suffering from mental health issues.

Comox Valley Detachment

Const. David Thornson – saved a distraught woman from drowning in the Puntledge River.

Integrated Homicide Investigation Team

Superintendents Paul Dadwal (now with the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, aka CFSEU) and Elija Rain (now with “E” Division Major Crime Section), Inspectors Kori Power (now with Richmond Detachment) and William Yee (now with the Office of Investigative Standards and Practices), Staff Sgt. Mandeep Mooker (now with CFSEU), Sergeants Melinda Dixon and Name Withheld – exceptional performance during the concurrent investigation of two unrelated homicides.

“E” Division Federal Serious and Organized Crime

Det. Const. Paul McNamara (Vancouver Police Department) and Names Withheld x 3 – exceptional performance during a complex investigation into an international drug-trafficking organization.

Cpl.Vinh Ngo, Det. Const. Jason Meyer, Const. Todd Sweet (New Westminster Police Department) – extracted an unconscious driver from a burning vehicle and provided life-saving first aid.

“E” Division Major Crime Section

Staff Sgt. Kirk Wilson, Cpl. Erika Rast (now with South East District Major Crime Section), Det. Jodi Christie (Abbotsford Police Department), and Names Withheld x 5 – exceptional performance during the investigation into the homicide of a vulnerable young male.

Const. Doug French – during a wild fire deployment, quickly dealt with a brush fire that had started when a motorhome exploded at a remote check point.

“E” Division Traffic Services

Sgt. Brian Sampson – leadership, dedication and commitment to the Integrated Impaired Driving Unit and contribution to impaired driving enforcement and education.

Nanaimo Detachment

Constables Simon Gallimore and Michael Thompson – enlisted bystanders to lift a motor vehicle and extract a woman being asphyxiated under the engine block.

Const. Gary O’Brien – used innovative and creative approaches to promote the Nanaimo and District Crime Stoppers Program.

Const. Mark Smith – performed life-saving first aid to a robbery suspect with a severed radial artery.

North Cowichan / Duncan Detachment

Cpl. Lita Watson and Const. Leanne Szalai – saved a suicidal, intoxicated youth and his friend from falling off the edge of a roof.

Oceanside Detachment

Constables Kyle Sharpe and Clay Wurzinger (Nanaimo Police Dog Service) – tracked a dangerous prolific offender for several hours through dense bush.

Port Alberni Detachment

Constables Brian Kenny, Darren Pinto and Darryl Yacboski – placed themselves at risk to apprehend an agitated male with several self-inflicted knife wounds.

Quesnel Detachment

Constables Brian Davis (now with North District Integrated Road Safety Unit) and Ryan Rentmeester – saved a suicidal male from jumping off the Quesnel River Bridge.

Salmon Arm Detachment

Const. Robert Isles (now with Vernon/North Okanagan Detachment) – constructed a mechanical screener suitable for a large and complex forensic excavation.

Sayward Detachment

Const. Russell Mante (now with Campbell River Detachment) – searched for and provided aid to a hypothermic fisherman.

South East District Federal Serious and Organized Crime

Superintendents Brian Gateley (now with CFSEU) and Eddie Kramer (now with “E” Division Drug Enforcement Branch), Sergeants Brooke Argue (now with Nanaimo Detachment), Patrick Damgajian (now with Richmond Detachment) and Ken Johnston, Cpl. David DeFrane (now with Nanaimo Detachment), Const. Kevin Leach and Names Withheld x 3 – exceptional performance during a complex investigation into the international drug trafficking activities of a local criminal organization.

Terrace Detachment

Cpl. Douglas MacFarland (now with Harbour Grace Detachment, N.L.) – exceptional dedication and commitment to conclude a lengthy and complex child pornography investigation.

Upper Fraser Valley Regional Detachment

Cpl. Amanda Dodd (now with Pacific Region Training Centre) – while off duty, stopped in a remote area to render assistance and co-ordinate evidence gathering and lifesaving treatment to a gunshot victim.

Constables Lucian Mares and Derrick Uittenbosch – rescued an unco-operative female from a burning garage.

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