The Edmonds Police Department held its 13th annual awards ceremony on Thursday night, May 15, timed to coincide with the national Peace Officers Memorial Day, where America pauses to remember officers killed in the line of duty.
“The first recorded death of an American peace officer was in 1791. Since that time more than 20,000 have made the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty,” said Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan in his opening remarks. “Today we pause to honor all fallen officers and their families, and I can’t think of a more fitting way to do this than by honoring those who carry on the work of law enforcement in our community today.”
The awards recognize not only members of the Police Department, but also citizens who have taken heroic actions and performed service without regard for personal welfare.
Citizens like George Stathoulis and Amanuel Debesay, both of whom were key to apprehending two suspects who had entered the Lake Ballinger-area home of an 82-year-old woman, robbed and assaulted her, and then attempted to flee the scene. Stahoulis saw the suspects leave the victim’s residence and, while trying to remain unobserved, followed them on foot while calling 911. Police responded quickly and apprehended one suspect as he was trying to hide in some bushes with a backpack full items stolen from the victim.
The other suspect eluded police by running across Highway 99 where he hailed a taxi driven by Debesay. According to Debesay he was “very agitated,” and requested to be taken to the Aurora Transit Center “as fast as possible.” Debesay immediately became suspicious and contacted authorities via radio. He then made every effort to slow the drive to Aurora Village, even making the excuse to stop for gas along the way. This gave police the critical time they needed, and the suspect was apprehended.
“Both these citizens put themselves at considerable risk to assist law enforcement,” said police spokesperson Sergeant Mark Marsh, “and their help was key to apprehending these criminals.” (You can read the full story here.)
Other honorees included Cpl. Aaron Greenmun and Sgt. Josh McClure for their cool thinking and measured response in handing a very dangerous situation with a gunman near the Edmonds Elementary schoolyard last September, and Animal Control Officer Tabatha Shoemake for her critical role in identifying, tracking and apprehending a burglary suspect.
Additional honors went to Assistant Chief Jim Lawless, who was named recipient of the prestigious David N. Stern Memorial Officer of the Year Award, Administrative Assistant Caroline Thompson for her tireless and efficient work behind the scenes keeping the Department running like a well-oiled machine, and Sgt. Josh McClure for his years of work with K-9 Officer Dash, who now lives with McClure as a pet. In all, 21 officers and citizens were honored.
The ceremony ended with a solemn rendition of taps on the bugle provided by Officer Debbie Dawson.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel