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34th Annual Police Honors List

SALT LAKE CITY— Police Chief Chris Burbank issued or acknowledged the following awards at last night’s 34th annual Police Gala:

Partner in Public Safety: Gina Lopez, The Weigand Center

A case manager at The Weigand Center, Gina Lopez works closely with the Salt Lake City Police Department to identify criminal behavior that threatens the safety and well-being of clients and staff at The Weigand Center. A former nun, Lopez is tough, resilient and fair. She has a talent for bringing community partners together to deliver services for which people are eligible as they transition through homelessness. Her knowledge has been instrumental in the success of the department’s Homeless Outreach Service Team program, which includes both outreach and investigative components.

For her willingness to work together to solve issues related to homelessness, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Partner in Public Safety Award to Gina Lopez of The Weigand Center.

 


 

Purple Hearts Project: With the support of Chief Burbank,thedepartment’s Awards Committee reviewed past acts of bravery that were not recognized with Purple Heart awards at the time. Two officers received the commendation at the 34th Annual Police Gala last night:

Purple Heart: Officer Tyler Austin

June 11, 2012: Officer Tyler Austin was assisting on a trespass call of a subject sleeping on a commercial property.  Upon arrival, Austin saw the man, with a pit bull on his lap, talking with another officer. The dog was acting aggressively, continuously growling, chomping its teeth and making random snorting sounds. The subject gave false information to officers and when confronted, he made a run for it. While Officer Austin chased after the man, the pit bull chased after the officer and began biting at his heels. The subject tripped and Austin began subduing him, at which point the man commanded the dog to attack the officer. Sensing the dog’s attack, Austin raised his right forearm for protection, and the pit bull latched on. Austin continued to subdue the subject, and the pit bull clamped down tighter. Eventually, Austin was able to deploy his Taser and free his arm from the dog’s maw. Note: A pit bull’s bite can exert up to 235 pounds of pressure per square inch.

For injuries received during the course of duty, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Purple Heart Award to Officer Tyler Austin.

Purple Heart: Officer Travis Morgan

April 7, 2000: Officer Travis Morgan was finishing up a graveyard shift with then-Field Training Officer Lee Dobrowolski.  As they drove toward the station to complete paperwork, a call went out of a burglary in progress. Officers Morgan and Dobrowolski responded to the call and observed the suspect attempting to flee the scene in a stolen vehicle.  The suspect didn’t get far and in fact crashed the vehicle and then tried to run away. The officers gave chase, with Morgan closing on the suspect as they ran through a residential neighborhood. A citizen intervened and helped Morgan tackle the suspect. A melee ensued during which the suspect produced a handgun and shot Officer Morgan in the face. The suspect was taken into custody by Officer Dobrowolski and assisting officers.

For injuries received during the course of duty, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Purple Heart Award to Officer Travis Morgan.

 


 

Purple Heart, Police Medal: Officer Moe Tafisi and Officer Dan Tueller

March 28, 2014: At approximately 2:15 a.m., Officers Moeilealoalo Tafisi and Daniel Tueller conducted a traffic stop on a suspicious vehicle near 300 South West Temple. Tueller focused on the driver, while Tafisi turned his attention to the passenger. During their investigation, Tafisi discovered that the passenger had given false information. Confronting him, Tafisi saw the subject make furtive movements and subsequently ordered him from the vehicle. When Tafisi pulled him from the car, a fight ensued and a gun fell from the passenger’s clothing. He picked it up and opened fire on both officers, striking Officer Tueller once in the upper left hip and Officer Tafisi once in the left bicep. Officer Tafisi returned gunfire, fatally injuring the suspect. Officer Tafisi was able to advise dispatch that shots had been fired and that both officers were injured. He helped apply a tourniquet to Officer Tueller’s leg before placing one on himself.

For performance of courageous acts involving grave personal hazard, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Medal and Purple Heart awards to Officer Mo Tafisi and Officer Dan Tueller.

 


 

Chief’s Civilian of the Year: Kari Roberts

Kari Roberts, a civilian in the Pawn Unit, is a valuable resource for every police agency in the state. Kari has worked toward the time- and resource-saving goal of having the state database auto fill information into our Versadex system – which saves countless hours of manual data entry.

Although her focus is Salt Lake City cases, she has become a statewide resource and:

  • fields calls from all over Utah regarding general pawn questions and locating pawned items
  • monitors the database for stolen items
  • notifies outside agencies when their items turn up in the city
  • fosters cooperative relationships with pawn and second-hand shops and rent-to-own stores throughout the state. Many items are now located and returned   with less report writing and investigation because of Roberts’ work.

As a result, Roberts is a very valuable and respected resource for the State Pawn Board.

In January, Roberts was chosen to supervise the department’s first-ever Supported Employment Program with Columbus Community Center, which has two clients now working part-time in the Pawn Unit. It is Roberts’ patience and compassion that has helped these employees become successful in their jobs.

For her willingness to work beyond the scope of her duties, proactively solve problems, and mentor individuals in the workforce, Chief Burbank names Kari Roberts Civilian of the Year.

 


 

Chief’s Unit of the Year: Logistics Bureau

Over the last year, the Logistics Bureau brought to completion several transformational projects, including:

  • The new $125 million Public Safety Building, which opened in July 2013 after Logistics spent countless hours coordinating with elected officials, city administration, architects and consultants on its design and construction, as well as meeting with employees and citizens to identify the needs and wants of both internal and external stakeholders. Under the direction of Deputy Chief Doubt, the Logistics Bureau has succeeded in creating a more collaborative work environment, one that fosters cooperation between all employees, divisions and departments and the public.
  • Quartermaster, a new centralized inventory unit to track all police equipment, from acquisition to disposal. The unit is responsible for equipment, uniform and office supply asset management services, tasks which previously were spread across a variety of divisions.
  • Assumption of Sandy City Police and Fire Dispatch Services, a project that integrated Salt Lake City and Sandy City’s records management systems for police and fire, as well as transitioned dispatch responsibility for Sandy’s police and fire calls from Valley Emergency Communication Center to SLC911. The latter part of this project included all of Sandy Fire Department’s complicated stacking orders, new call numbers for Sandy Police, and CAD-to-CAD interfaces between Salt Lake City, VECC and Unified Police.

Next up for Logistics? Creating a new state-of-the-art facility for Crime Lab and Evidence, which should enable SLCPD to add new forensics capabilities.

For their phenomenal performance, Chief Burbank awards the Chief’s Unit of the Year to the Logistics Bureau:

  • Deputy Chief Tim Doubt
  • Lieutenant Scott Teerlink
  • Sergeant Mark Cryder
  • Sergeant Martin Kaufmann
  • Detective Ralph Anderson
  • Detective Jeff Carter
  • Detective Jennifer Heineman
  • Detective Christin Parks
  • Detective Bill Silver
  • Jennifer Drysdale
  • Sarah Fodor
  • James Hunsaker
  • Frankie Krogh
  • Andy Kukta
  • Joe Ortiz
  • Davin Skollingsberg

 


 

Chief’s Officer of the Year: Detective Cordon Parks

Cordon Parks has worked tirelessly to bring a difficult homicide case to a just resolution. Prosecution has commenced but is far from completed, which prohibits more details at this time.

For his dogged determination in the pursuit of justice, Detective Cordon Parks is the Chief’s Officer of the Year.

 


 

Chief’s Award Excellence in Policing: Deputy Chief Tim Doubt

After a successful 2009 bond campaign to seek the public’s support for a new Public Safety Building (PSB), Chief Chris Burbank named Tim Doubt Deputy Chief of Logistics to coordinate with elected officials, city administration, architects and consultants on the design and construction of a new $125 million facility.

Not only would the new PSB serve as headquarters for the police and fire departments, it would contain an Emergency Operations Center and a state-of-the-art Communications Center. The project was expected to revolutionize public safety’s office culture while simultaneously projecting needs 50 years into the future — a task of monumental importance. Getting it wrong was not an option.

Starting in 2010, Chief Doubt spent countless hours meeting with employees and citizens to identify the needs and wants of both internal and external stakeholders. The design of the new PSB took well over a year to complete and is largely based on Chief Doubt’s vision of how the building should serve both employees and the public. He worked tirelessly to ensure that its form and function would foster a more collaborative work environment, one that would increase cooperation between all employees, divisions and departments and the public.

Once designed, Chief Doubt spent nearly every day of the building’s two-year construction period on-site to inspect and verify that the work was being completed as designed. Due in no small part to his managerial skill, the new PSB came in on time and under budget when it opened to public fanfare in July 2013.

Construction of the new PSB was and is not Chief Doubt’s only responsibility. He has also led other efforts that are proving equally transformational for the police department. For example:

  • Quartermaster, a new centralized inventory unit that tracks all police equipment, from acquisition to disposal. The unit is responsible for equipment, uniform and office supply asset management services, tasks which previously were spread across a variety of divisions.
  • New Evidence/Crime Lab facility, a multi-phase project to create a state-of-the-art facility that may be shared with other law enforcement agencies.
  • Assumption of Sandy City Police and Fire Dispatch Services, a project that integrated Salt Lake City and Sandy City’s records management systems for police and fire, as well as transitioned dispatch responsibility for Sandy’s police and fire calls from Valley Emergency Communication Center to SLC911. The latter part of this project included all of Sandy Fire Department’s complicated stacking orders, new call numbers for Sandy Police, and CAD-to-CAD interfaces between Salt Lake City, VECC and Unified Police.

For all this and more, the Chief’s Award for Excellence in Policing goes to Deputy Chief Tim Doubt.

 


 

Police Meritorious Unit Citation: Safe Streets Task Force

In 2013, the Safe Streets Gang Task Force showed superior performance:

  • 239 felony arrests
  • 157 misdemeanor arrests
  • 1,000+ calls-for-service
  • 27 firearms seized
  • 60 warrants written

Led by SLCPD, SSTF is a joint operation among multiple law enforcement agencies. Each detective concurrently maintains an active investigative queue with an exceptional clearance rate. Of several gang related drug cases and arrests, 21 federal convictions were obtained. On top of their day to day duties, SSTF officers also offer gang prevention classes and outreach to intervene with individuals vulnerable to gang influences. The task force utilizes a comprehensive gang model to foster a greater working relationship between the police department and the community.

For their dedication and success, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Unit Citation to the Safe Streets Task Force.

Salt Lake City PD

  • Lieutenant Rich Brede
  • Sergeant Andy Jackson
  • Sergeant Robert Eldard
  • Sergeant Scott Smalley
  • Detective Lorenzo Leuluai
  • Detective Nathan Wiley
  • Detective Kevin Schofield
  • Detective Devin Stutz
  • Detective Matthew Voorhees
  • Detective Jeremy Sayes
  • Detective Ryan McBride
  • Detective JD Mortensen
  • Detective Mike Johnson
  • Detective Kevin Ford
  • Detective Alma Sweeney
  • Detective Jason Miller

West Valley PD

  • Lieutenant Dalan Taylor
  • Detective Justin Wyckoff

West Jordan PD

  • Detective Brandon Turner

Sandy PD

  • Detective Sione Langi

Utah Highway Patrol

  • Agent Eric Davies

 


 

Police Meritorious Unit Citation: Auto Theft Unit

Under the direction of Sgt. Bennett, the new Auto Theft Unit created a proactive unit to combat the increasing auto theft problem in Salt Lake City.

The Auto Theft Unit is staffed by five detectives who were chosen based on their initiative, strong work ethic and the ability to think outside the box. From January 2013 to March 2014, these detectives handled more than 3,000 auto theft cases and arrested and helped prosecute more than 80 habitual car thieves. Many of those arrested were responsible for multiple thefts.

By working nontraditional hours and getting out from behind the desk, the Auto Theft Unit was able to locate and apprehend more criminals than ever before. Being available to assist Patrol Officers with stolen vehicle cases resulted in a much higher conviction rate than in the past. With an understanding that criminals, especially car thieves, cross jurisdictional borders in the commission of their crimes, the Auto Theft Unit increased its collaboration with other law enforcement organizations (LEOs), including Utah State Motor Vehicle Enforcement, in the Salt Lake Valley. They organized and participated in multi-agency operations to recover stolen vehicles and apprehend car thieves. In one of the operations, officers recovered 15 cars in the first four hours.

SLCPD’s Auto Theft Unit took lead role in coordinating intelligence between LEOs in the Valley and started a bi-monthly auto theft intelligence meeting to foster communication and share intelligence on criminals, trends in the types of vehicles stolen, and the ever-changing ways in which criminals steal cars. With assistance from the Salt Lake Information Center (SLIC), they took a targeted, strategic approach and used intelligence-based policing to focus on high-value targets and areas.

The Auto Theft Unit has made public awareness a priority. They have accomplished this by making the public aware of trends and the steps they can take to safeguard their vehicle. By utilizing press releases and social media, they have reached a broader audience. Internally, the Auto Theft Unit keeps detectives informed of auto theft trends, which are then shared with the community to help the public reduce or mitigate its exposure to this type of crime. For example, SLCPD’s Community Intelligence Unit attends monthly Community Council meetings to share information on suspects and trends in vehicle thefts and recoveries.

A major step forward for the unit was the formation of a direct partnership with the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office. The Auto Theft Unit now works directly with prosecutors who understand that Auto Theft touches on many other crimes, from thefts to homicides. By focusing resources to prosecute repeat offenders, the city expects to see downward pressure on many other crimes. The Auto Theft Unit created a list of approximately 30 regular offenders and with the assistance of the DA’s Office has placed 20 of them behind bars. The result has been a 30 to 40 percent decrease in auto theft in Salt Lake City during the first part of March 2014.

During a recent jailhouse interview, one car thief told detectives that the word is out: SLCPD’s Auto Theft Unit is hunting car thieves and making auto theft a priority. Thieves know they will be looking at felony charges if caught, and fewer want to take that chance now. The subject went on to say that they have gone as far as telling others to go to other jurisdictions and stay out of Salt Lake.

For clearly sending the message in word and deed, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards its Police Meritorious Unit Citation to the Auto Theft Unit:

  • Sergeant Stefhan Bennett
  • Detective Robert Ungricht
  • Detective Joshua Ashdown
  • Detective Jesus Perea
  • Detective Gordon Swift
  • Detective Jordan Robison

 


 

Police Distinguished Service Medal: Detective Hilary Gordon and Amberly Crowford

Detective Gordon joined the Homicide Squad in July 2013 and in just eight months, she successfully closed three cold cases and assisted the Utah Missing Persons Clearinghouse in solving another case from 1981. Her partner in all of these cases was Amberly Crowford, a records supervisor with superior skills in navigating databases, microfiche and far-flung electronic information. Together they were able to accomplish the following:

  • Locate and notify next-of-kin for Colby Wells, who had died in 2009.
  • Notify next of kin after discovering that Wayne Pavlik, reported missing in 1999, had died and was buried in Arizona.
  • Work with Columbus, Ohio, PD, to locate and notify the Utah family of Sharon Bowen, who went missing from Salt Lake City in 1982.

Her unidentified body was found in Ohio in 1983. Cases in both jurisdictions went cold. Technology advancements and cold case work in both Salt Lake City and Columbus enabled identification and next-of-kin notification in January 2014.

In February 2014, the Utah Missing Persons Clearinghouse requested SLCPD’s assistance in locating a person who vanished in 1981.  Thirty-three years later, Gordon and Crowford located her in Oklahoma, alive and well, living under an alias.  Gordon went above and beyond in this case by talking at length with the missing person regarding the circumstances of her disappearance and coordinating reconciliation with her family.

Family members for all of the above cold cases, and many others, have expressed their deepest appreciation and gratitude for the duo’s work.

For tireless efforts to bring justice to victims and a degree of peace to grieving families, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Distinguished Service Medal to Detective Hilary Gordon and Records Supervisor Amberly Crowford.

 


 

Police Distinguished Service Medal: Detective JOHN DOE

From January 2010 to September 2013, Detective JOHN DOE provided exemplary service as part of the DEA Metro Narcotics Task Force. Edited to protect his identity and safety, the nomination for Detective DOE speaks for itself:

Detective DOE’s contribution to Metro can be simply characterized as selfless, dedicated, professional, and beyond the call of duty. Detective DOE’s service to Metro should be recognized for not only his long-term investigation dubbed “Operation Bondo Banger,” targeting a well-known poly-crime/poly-drug trafficking organization, but also for his contributions to cases managed by his colleagues at Metro.

Detective DOE spent a great deal of his time at Metro developing “Operation Bondo Banger.” This case targeted members of local gangs, as well as their international methamphetamine and heroin sources of supply. Detective DOE’s targets had eluded justice for years prior to his arrival at Metro and were well known by DEA and the Salt Lake Valley law enforcement community. Detective DOE’s investigation not only impacted local drug distributors but reached the highest level of international drug traffickers.

Detective DOE’s efforts identified and intercepted Rafael Magana, a major Mexican source of supply of methamphetamine for local Salt Lake Valley gang members and wholesale level Utah distributors. Magana, after learning of arrests generated by Detective DOE, went into hiding in Mexico and is now sought by DEA and the Sinaloa Cartel. In the final phase of this investigation, Detective DOE initiated a series of Title-III wire intercepts of cellular phones used by members of Magana’s drug trafficking network. One of Magana’s most trusted partners, Beatriz Prado, identified by Detective DOE as a heroin/methamphetamine distributor and money launderer, was intercepted extensively during the final days of the investigation. Detective DOE arrested Prado in possession of 16 pounds of methamphetamine and one pound of heroin. Further, based on the wire intercepts and this arrest, Detective DOE was able to make a DEA headquarters-confirmed link between his investigation and Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman-Lorea, the leader of the Sinaloa Cartel.

While this narrative scarcely does Detective DOE’s three-year investigation justice, the outcome of his case is incredibly impressive. In all, DOE’s efforts led to the arrest of 39 individuals, the initiation of eight Title-III wire intercepts, the seizure of 23 pounds of methamphetamine and four pounds of heroin. Additional seizures included 10 guns, 14 vehicles, a semi-truck tractor and trailer, and over $100,000 in U.S. currency.

Detective DOE’s success at Metro is not solely characterized by this investigation. It is attributed to his work ethic and never-give-up attitude. Detective DOE was relied on heavily by Metro to act in an undercover capacity for a myriad of investigations managed by his colleagues. He was further called on for frequent assistance in interviewing Spanish-speaking defendants and cooperators. As busy as Detective DOE was with his own investigations, he always made himself available to help others, working as hard and with as much passion on his co-workers cases as his own.

Detective DOE has distinguished himself as one of Metro’s most talented Task Force Officers. His service to Metro was exceptional and resulted in one of the largest and most productive investigations ever conducted. The impact Detective DOE has had on the drug trade in the Salt Lake Metro area is immeasurable. Detective DOE should be commended for his efforts and abilities.

For significant contributions interdicting the trade of illegal narcotics both locally and internationally, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Distinguished Service Medal to Detective JOHN DOE.

 


 

Police Meritorious Service Medal: Officer Aaron Buchei

October 18, 2013: during the graveyard shift, dispatchers began receiving reports of cab drivers being robbed at gunpoint. The robberies were happening in quick succession, but otherwise they were spread across the city. With each report, the suspect was becoming more brazen, violent and threatening to his victims.

Based on his experience and perspective as a patrol officer, Aaron Buchei decided the suspect had to be using a vehicle. Buchei went to 700 East, knowing how quickly one can get from downtown to the south end of town  on this thoroughfare — per the pattern of robberies —and began following cabs. Seeing a car following a cab, Buchei made a traffic stop and found the driver matched a description of the suspect. After he was taken into custody for a warrant, Buchei conducted an inventory search, which produced a handgun with laser and several folded wads of cash. Visible in the car was a black baseball hat and wool scarf, items witnesses mentioned in their descriptions of the suspect. Buchei halted the inventory search and called for detectives and a search warrant. Several eyewitnesses brought to the scene identified the suspect as the robber.

For putting a stop to a series of robberies — any one of which could have ended in tragedy — and police work that was key to capturing a very dangerous suspect, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Aaron Buchei.

 


 

Police Meritorious Service Medal: Officer Tom Edmundson

Officer Tom Edmundson was on his dinner break with other officers at a local restaurant when a young boy tapped him on the shoulder and asked him to help his father. The man was choking on his food and unable to breathe. Edmundson applied the Heimlich maneuver to clear the man’s airway.

For rendering life saving aid, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Tom Edmundson.

 


 

Police Meritorious Service Medal: Detective Liane Frederick

August 2013: A mentally ill subject made a call to the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) regarding suicidal ideations. He made it known that crisis workers should not respond because he was also having homicidal thoughts. When police officers arrived, the subject was pink-sheeted and involuntarily committed. The subject ended up in a West Valley City hospital where he made terroristic threats that he would commit mass killings at a Salt Lake City shopping mall and would bomb UTA buses.

Detective Liane Frederick recognized the subject — having previously flagged the man through her work as part of the Crisis Intervention Team program — and became involved with the case, working with West Valley City PD. Further, through interviews with the subject’s ex-wife, Frederick was told that the threats were credible, and the ex-wife believed that if he said he would do it, he would at least attempt to make it happen.

When the subject was arrested in another city, Detective Frederick recognized the need to serve a search warrant on his place of residence in Salt Lake City, as he had alluded to having multiple firearms, large amounts of ammunition, and bomb-making resources. Because this was currently a West Valley City PD case, she worked with them and the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s office to execute the search. When West Valley declined to seek a warrant, Detective Frederick made her concern known to SWAT Sergeant Andy Leonard, who helped to plan the serving of the search warrant. With SWAT’s assistance, Detective Frederick served the search warrant on the residence and made certain that it was safe for the other residents of the apartment complex.

For recognizing the need to take action in light of terroristic threats originating in another jurisdiction with implications for public safety in the Capital City, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Service Medal to Detective Liane Frederick.

 


 

Police Meritorious Service Medal: Officer Andrew Cluff and Officer Doug Steenblik

While off-duty and traveling west on Interstate 80 with family and friends, officers Andrew Cluff and Doug Steenblik came upon a group of people surrounding a truck that had rolled just outside of Wendover. Upon stopping to render aid, they found a woman who had been ejected from the vehicle and was laying face down in the mud. Cluff spoke with her and found out she couldn’t feel her legs. Telling her not to move, he directed a bystander who was a nurse to cover her with a blanket and keep talking with her. Cluff then moved to the driver’s side of the rolled truck where officer Steenblik was already attempting to crawl in the window to speak with the other occupants. Steenblik carefully crawled inside to help a woman in the rear seat exit through the driver’s side window. Cluff helped her avoid cutting herself on the glass from the window, then laid her down on a blanket.

After a Utah Highway Patrol officer arrived on scene, Cluff assisted with placing a C-collar on the second victim and had another bystander talk to both women and make sure neither moved until medical personnel arrived.

A third passenger was still belted into the driver seat and stated that he was disabled and couldn’t move himself out of the vehicle. The officers found that the driver had limited mobility of his arms and legs prior to the crash and that he wouldn’t be able to move without assistance. Still in the car, Officer Steenblik saw that the man had a large laceration to his arm that was bleeding profusely. Gauze and tape were passed into the vehicle and Steenblik bandaged it as well as he could before attempting to move the passenger. However, both doors on the vehicle were wedged shut and Steenblik couldn’t get the third passenger out the driver’s side window.

Steenblik then cut the driver out of his harness. It was decided that with two more Utah Highway Patrol officers on scene that together they would lift the third passenger through the passenger window by partially placing him on a blanket and scooting him out of the truck. Cluff took control of the man’s back and legs, another officer held the blanket, Steenblik made sure that the drivers head and neck didn’t move, and the second UHP officer pulled on the blanket. They continued in this manner, resetting every now and again to keep the driver clear of the broken glass all around, until they had him clear of the vehicle.

Once medical personnel arrived at the scene, Cluff and Steenblik assisted where necessary and then took their leave.

For their off-duty assistance to the driver and passengers injured in a vehicle-rollover, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Andrew Cluff and Officer Doug Steenblik.

 


 

Police Meritorious Unit Citation: Patrol Squad, Afternoons

March 30, 2014: A mother called police after her adult son threatened to kill her and her other children. The suspect had multiple guns in the home, according to the mother, who thought the weapons might be pellet guns.  An afternoon patrol squad arrived and coordinated through SLC911 to get the mother and children out of the home and evacuate neighbors. Then they began talking with the suspect, who told officers that if they wanted to come get him, they would have to kill him.

Officers proceeded to form an Emergency Action Team near the door and placed themselves in a position to see down into the basement where they believed the suspect was located. Due to their foresight, they spotted the suspect as he appeared for a brief moment to show officers that he had cut his wrists and tied a ligature around his neck.  He then disappeared into a bedroom.

Officers staged medical personnel and then requested permission to take up position at the top of the stairs and restrict the suspect’s movements even further. Since the suspect had not spoken with officers in more than two minutes, they next requested permission to breach a basement window from the exterior of the home, at which point they observed the suspect lying on a bed and unresponsive. The Emergency Action Team then made entry into the room while officers outside held on the suspect.

Upon reaching the suspect, officers removed the ligature from around his neck and he began to breath. Medical personnel responded and transported the suspect to the hospital for observation due to his self-inflicted injuries.

For great planning and rapid action that saved a suspect’s life and prevented further injury, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Unit Citation to Patrol, Afternoons:

  • Sergeant Justin Hudson
  • Officer James Bishop
  • Officer Sherry Cardon
  • Officer Mitchell Brooks
  • Officer Ryan Sanders
  • Officer Christopher Nielsen
  • Officer Sarah Mullen
  • Officer Matthew Armstrong
  • Officer Russell Peterson
  • K9 Tex

 


 

Police Meritorious Service Medal: Officer Joseph Taylor

September 15, 2013: A suicidal teenager, 18, was on the roof of his house and threatening to jump. While his father was also on the roof trying to talk him down, the subject indicated that he would absolutely jump if he saw police arriving. As a result, officers approached the scene from an alley behind the house.  Still, the subject saw them and took actions to prove his intent – at various times he wrapped a rope around his neck, stood on the edge of the roof, or dangled his legs over the roof’s edge. Officer Joseph Taylor made contact and established a rapport with the young man, working with his father to assure him that force would not be used to bring him off the roof. Officer Taylor addressed his concerns about going to jail, promising the boy that his safety was the primary concern. As a result, the officer convinced the young man to voluntarily go to the hospital for treatment.

For his skill and calming influence with a suicidal teenager, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Joseph Taylor.

 


 

Police Meritorious Service Medal: Officer Nathan Groves

June 13, 2013: Officers responded to a home where an 83-year-old man and his 72-year-old wife had been assaulted by their son, a 56-year-old man against whom they had a restraining order. The couple told officers that their son, who had fled the house, said he was going to kill himself and his dog. Officers found the suspect at a golf course across the street. Armed with a  6- to 8-inch-long knife and intoxicated, the man said he wanted officers to shoot him. He also threatened to kill himself if officers approached. Officers made several attempts to talk him down, but the man ignored their repeated commands and even made throwing motions with the knife at Officer Nathan Groves. Eventually, the man began slashing his own throat, at which point Officer Groves was close enough to successfully deploy his Taser and stop him.

For showing great restraint in stopping a suicidal, homicidal and mentally unstable subject, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Nathan Groves.

 


 

Police Meritorious Unit Citation: Serious Collision Investigation Detail, Swing Shift

Just before 7 p.m. Monday, November 25, 2013, Genaro Zaragoza-Valencia, 73, was struck by a vehicle and thrown approximately 75 feet. Valencia died of his injuries Tuesday evening. By Wednesday, Detective Knaub received information about a man who might know the driver of the vehicle in this hit-and-run accident. On Saturday, Sgt. Tom Potter and Detective David Knaub located the man with the information.  While the man knew the driver’s identity, he would not give up the name because he did not want to get his friend in trouble. When he stopped talking to police, Sgt. Potter arrested the man for felony obstruction of justice, booked him into jail. He also seized the man’s telephone, for which he obtained a search warrant.  In the interim, Sgt. Potter learned the man he had arrested for felony obstruction had been wearing an ankle monitor during the preceding week. He then used GPS to track the monitor’s movements and found it had been traveling at a rate of 70 miles per hour the day of the homicide in the location of the hit-and-run accident, at the time of the accident. Sgt. Potter then tracked the monitor to two different locations in West Valley City. After obtaining a search warrant for the two different addresses, Sgt. Potter and his team ultimately found the vehicle that had killed the 73-year-old victim and arrested its driver. The suspect’s vehicle still had physical evidence of the homicide on it. Upon his release from jail, the man arrested for felony obstruction made contact with Sgt. Potter to talk about the homicide and what he knows.

For superior investigative actions and teamwork in a hit-and-run homicide case, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Unit Citation to the Serious Collision Investigation Detail, Swing Shift:

  • Sergeant Tom Potter
  • Detective Tom Sawyer
  • Detective Richard B. Stone
  • Detective David Knaub
  • Detective Eric Philbrick
  • Detective Robert Martinez

 


 

Police Meritorious Unit Citation: SLCPD Explorer Post #2471

The advisors and young men and women of SLCPD Explorer Post #2471 were one of the primary faces of the department during the open house of the new Public Safety Building in July 2013 and at various special events throughout the city. Together they guided or led the majority of tours for the thousands of people who visited the building throughout its week-long open house. Members of the all-volunteer post also donate their time to assist officers with crowd and traffic control during special events throughout the city, including the Salt Lake City Marathon, Days of ’47 Parade and LDS General Conference. They also represent the department when SLCPD hosts outreach booths at community events and festivals.

With an emphasis on preparing participants for a potential career in law enforcement, the Explorer Program will soon become a preferred route to joining the Salt Lake City Police Department.

For donating countless hours in service of the community and exhibiting a commitment and professionalism beyond their years, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Unit Citation to Explorer Post #2471:

  • Detective Cody Lougy
  • Detective Veronica Montoya
  • Detective Mike Hamideh
  • Kaitlyn Torres
  • Ahmed Aden
  • Perla Adete
  • Teresa Bagdasarova
  • Ashley Barbarin
  • Edgar Bautista
  • Kirsten Beffett
  • Jacqueline Beltran
  • Corina Burwell
  • Nicole Child
  • Carrero Dayerlin
  • Jose DeAvila
  • Salah Eftin
  • Christopher Flitton
  • Lynn Frederickson
  • Carlos Garcia
  • Bibiano Gomez
  • Columba Gonzalea
  • Selina Handley
  • Erika Hulse
  • Yovani Lopez
  • Sydney Martinez
  • Kian McInnis
  • Augustin Mendoza
  • Amani Mitonzi
  • Anthony Mora
  • Anthony Murdock
  • Amy Novoa
  • Kaylee Ortega
  • Cameron Peck
  • Dat Pham
  • Alex Ramirez
  • Eddi Ramirez
  • Monica Sanchez
  • Shayla Sanchez
  • Tamara Sanchez
  • Mayra Serna
  • Selena Sittner
  • Bailey Toland
  • Jesse Tronier
  • Jose Vargas
  • Sarah Winder
  • Jordan Wood

 


 

Police Meritorious Unit Citation: Property Crimes

In late 2012, the department merged Larceny and Burglary into a single Property Crimes Unit. This allowed supervisors and detectives to more evenly distribute cases to detectives — including larceny, burglary, damaged property, graffiti, auto theft, vehicle burglary — and better manage retail theft and pawn detail components.

Let’s break it down:

  • From June 2013 to January 2014, Property Crimes handled more than 16,000 complaints, from which 12,854 cases were opened and investigated.
  • Retail Theft handled all shoplift cases, ensuring that all incidents were screened properly as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on enhancements.
  • Pawn Detail handled all cases where stolen property — from city cases or outside jurisdictions — was pawned in Salt Lake City pawn shops.
  • Recently the squads and their sergeants handled an additional 1,000-plus calls when it was found telephonics were not routing to their normal working queue.

For outstanding dedication to a reorganization that has improved the investigative process, the Salt Lake City Police Department awards the Police Meritorious Unit Citation to Property Crimes:

Detectives and Sergeants Involved:

  • Sergeant Dale Bench
  • Sergeant Jenn Diederich
  • Detective Ed Amacher
  • Detective Vicki Aubrey
  • Detective Jennifer Carling
  • Detective Michael Coles
  • Detective Allen DeGraw
  • Detective Michael Evans
  • Detective Mark Falkner
  • Detective Joe Folau
  • Detective Jose Flores
  • Detective Mike Hardin
  • Detective Conrad Leong
  • Detective Michael Millard
  • Detective Jamie Nelson
  • Detective Jeffrey North
  • Detective Jeff Payne
  • Detective David Sonntag
  • Detective Jeff VanKatwyk
  • Detective Rodney VanScoy
  • Detective Weldon Wilson
  • Kari Roberts

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