Life-saving efforts and other contributions by police officers were recognized during recent ceremonies held in Huntersville and Davidson.
At the town board’s June 3 meeting, Huntersville Police Chief Bence Hoyle honored nine officers in his department for actions that helped save lives.
Accompanied by Major Barry Graham, Hoyle presented Life Saving Awards to HPD sergeants Brian Luthart and Kenjamin Libby and officers Torey Hardy, Joshua Freitag, Eric Johnston, Steve Lehew, Jesse Helms, Cody Shaw and Earl Gordon.
Hoyle read brief descriptions of the scenarios, which involved the officers taking “action above and beyond the normal requirements of duty that directly results in the saving of a human life.”
Luthart and Libby, along with Hardy, Freitag, Johnston, Lehew and Helms, were saluted for their team efforts and quick response to a situation in the Rosedale shopping area in early December of 2018. After responding to a call at a medical facility, officers were told by a woman that her husband was missing and possibly suicidal.
Officers gathered information about the man and other details and conducted a quick search of the area, locating the man unconscious inside his vehicle. Officers pulled the man from the car and provided medical attention.
Hoyle said the “methodical and rapid search” and medical assistance provided by the officers were vital factors in the man’s survival.
Luthart and Libby were also recognized, along with Shaw, for action in saving a life in May of this year. Responding to a report of an attempted suicide at a home, officers found a male on the bathroom floor with neck, knee and groin wounds that had resulted in a significant loss of blood. The officers applied tourniquets and direct pressure on the wounds until medical personnel arrived.
“The quick thinking and efforts of these officers,” Hoyle said, “... were instrumental in sustaining the life of the victim until paramedics could arrive.”
Gordon’s recognition stemmed from his response to an incident on Interstate 77 in February. Responding to a crash just north of Sam Furr Road, Gordon discovered a man who had been attempting to change a flat tire along the interstate’s shoulder when he was stuck by a passing vehicle – later determined to be operated by an intoxicated driver.
The man’s leg was severely damaged and Gordon recognized the loss of blood from the injury as life-threatening. He applied a tourniquet and stayed with the man until medical personnel arrived. The victim, according to Hoyle, lost his leg, but survived due to the quick actions of Gordon.
Life Saving Awards, Hoyle said, are one category of the department’s Class A honors, which recognize meritorious and distinguished service. The awards require a nomination and an incident investigation along with approval from a departmental awards committee and the chief.
Chief Penny Dunn, who began duties with the Davidson Police Department in July 2017, coordinated an awards ceremony on May 29 to recognize officers for “exemplary work and exceptional actions” in recent years.
Joined by Sgt. Cindy Smith, Dunn presented multiple honors including Life Saving Award and Officer of the Year Award recognition to Cpl. Justin Colson and Officer Meghan O’Brien. Dunn said in April 2018, Colson and O’Brien, responding to a call on the eastern edge of town, discovered a 60-year-old man with no pulse.
The officers worked as a team to help the man, who was unconscious and not breathing. They performed CPR and tended to the victim until medical personnel arrived. Davidson Fire Chief Bo Fitzgerald, in a note to Dunn about the incident, said the officers’ actions were critical in saving the man’s life.
“In other words,” Fitzgerald wrote in the message to the police department, “by beginning CPR, you bought our folks and Medic valuable time as they rushed to get to the scene.”
Dunn also presented Distinguished Service Awards to multiple members of the department.
Cpl. Scott Russell and Officer Anthony Better were honored for their actions in separate incidents – one in March 2017 and one in November 2018 – when they responded to calls concerning potential suicides. In both cases, the officers met and talked with the individuals and were able to de-escalate the situations and help the individuals get needed care.
Better was also recognized for his role in helping establish the “Custard with a Cop” event, which has become a community-engagement tradition in Davidson.
Corporals Vernon Siders, Joe Squashic, Jay Stokes and Nick Bockler, and Officer Kanita Boone were also saluted for contributions to the department and the community.
Siders was recognized for an overall “commitment to the Davidson community and his willingness to help anyone in need.” Dunn praised Siders’ work in crisis intervention, suicide prevention, school interactions and his efforts to coordinate the town’s annual National Night Out event. “We owe a great deal to Det. Siders for being so productive in our community engagement and creating a positive image of the department,” Dunn said.
Squashic was saluted for taking the lead role in coordinating the department’s interaction with the Governor’s Highway Safety Program – “a job of little appreciation for how much paperwork is involved,” according to Dunn. His efforts led to a more complete compilation of departmental data as well as state assistance in acquiring equipment and supplies, saving the department and the town money.
Stokes earned Dunn’s praise for volunteering for additional departmental management assignments. Stokes has assumed duties as the vehicle procurement officer and has helped implement technological advancement within the department, allowing for better internal communication and information-sharing with other departments.
Bockler was honored for his role in ending a multi-county high-speed chase in May 2018. Bockler deployed “stop sticks” to disable a vehicle being pursued by Catawba County and Charlotte-Mecklenburg law enforcement agencies.
Boone was recognized for her work in embracing her role as a department’s first School Resource Officer and helping promote and coordinate a basketball benefit to raise money for a scholarship fund honoring Officer Mark Swaney, a Davidson policeman killed in the line of duty in 1997.
In closing the departmental awards, Dunn also referenced specific situations where teamwork within the department and cooperation with other law enforcement agencies had played vital roles in investigating crimes and securing subsequent arrests.
In addition to several of the officers previously singled out for honors, she recognized Sgt. Scott Searcy, Sgt. Cindy Smith, Sgt. Greg Frostbutter and Officer Kenny McDaniel for their leadership roles in those cases.