The Edmonds Police Department took time out on Thursday evening to honor its own in the 15th annual Edmonds Police Department Awards ceremony.
Held each year during National Police Week, the ceremony recognizes outstanding achievement by both citizens and officers in serving and protecting the Edmonds community. Inaugurated in 1961 by President John F. Kennedy, National Police Week honors active police officers serving throughout the United States, and in particular those who have lost their lives in the line of duty since the first recorded peace officer death in 1792.
Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan began the evening by calling to mind the deeper meaning of law enforcement service, pausing to recognize the 900,000 law enforcement officers serving across the United States, and to remember the more than 20,000 who have been killed in the line of duty since the formation of our republic.
Compaan then introduced Mayor Dave Earling, who congratulated all the evening’s honorees, and in particular the citizens who in many unsung ways further law enforcement in our community. Saying that “it’s often the citizen who makes the connection and saves the life,” Earling stressed that law enforcement is everyone’s job, not just that of the police.
Emcee Sgt. Shane Hawley then began the program with Citizen Service Citations, recognizing citizens who have made a positive contribution to law enforcement in our community.
The first group of honorees — Scott Pinzon, Andre Morrison, Dan Sweetwood, Michael (“Todd”) Stone and Brian Houten — pooled their efforts to amp up the hiring of new officers through a series of innovative recruitment videos. Edmonds PD had been struggling to fill six vacancies, and with traditional approaches such as newspaper ads no longer effective, a new approach was needed. The five, all employees of EMC Technologies, took advantage of a company perk that allowed them to donate three days each year toward a good cause. They chose to give their time and expertise to producing recruitment videos to run on the Edmonds PD social media sites. And as a direct result of their generosity, the positions are now full.
Other Citizen Service Citation honorees included Courtney Popp, who took the initiative to call Edmonds police directly when she happened upon a special needs student who had wandered off and gone missing, and Todd Ryen who, despite considerable risk to himself, came to the assistance of an officer attempting to apprehend a violent suspect. And then there was Christopher Russ, who jumped in to help defuse a road rage incident, taking a severe punch to the face in the process.
Also recognized were Seth Hamlin and Adriano Mapanao, crew on the ferry Walla Walla, who helped rescue a suicidal woman attempting to drown herself off Brackett’s Landing, and 14-year old Holy Rosary student Luke Schimpf who, after discovering a sack of jewelry and other valuables stolen in a year-old burglary, chose to do the right and honorable thing, turning the items in to Edmonds police, who returned them to their rightful owner.
Moving on to police employees, Detective Stephen Morrison was singled out for a Letter of Commendation for his fast intervention when phone scammers attempted to defraud two Edmonds citizens out of a combined $25,000. Thanks to his quick work, the suspects’ accounts were frozen and the money returned to the victims. Letters of commendation also went to Sergeant Josh McClure for his behind-the-scenes work facilitating the volunteer videographers to produce their very successful recruitment videos, and police staff assistant Amy Collins for her many months of painstaking work entering a mountain of police records into the new county-wide “New World” tracking system. (Read more about New World in My Edmonds News coverage here.)
Assistant Chief Jim Lawless then took over the podium to present Letters of Commendation to Officers Kraig Strum, Jason Robinson, Earl Yamane and Mel Moore, Detectives Stephen Morrison and Stacie Trykar, Detective Corporal Mark Froland, Sergeants Shane Hawley and Robert Barker, and a Meritorious Service Citation to Corporal Aaron Greenmun. These officers, through a combination of heroic efforts and dogged police work, not only saved the life of a brutal stabbing attack victim, but collected evidence and conducted an investigation that led to the ultimate arrest and conviction of the attacker, who is now serving a 30-year sentence for his crime.
It began on Jan. 17, 2015 when Domino’s Pizza driver Mike Brenick left the store to make a delivery and was attacked by a person attempting to prowl his car. Stabbed and slashed across the abdomen and with his intestines exposed, the victim crawled back to his workplace where coworkers called 911.
Corporal Greenmun was among the first to respond, and put his advanced first aid training to good use stabilizing the victim, moving his organs back into his body, and sealing the wound. Meanwhile Robinson, Yamane and K-9 Officer Hobbs tracked the suspect. Discovering he had been in a local convenience store minutes before, they uncovered leads that ultimately allowed Trykar and Barker to trace and reconstruct the suspect’s movements. During the search, Moore uncovered what turned out to be the key piece of evidence in the case, an envelope taken from the victim’s car bearing a bloody fingerprint that proved to match the suspect.
Arrested a few days later, the suspect was interviewed by Hawley, who uncovered key inconsistencies in his story. Charges were filed, and after an 8-day trial the suspect was found guilty of attempted murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to 30 years in prison. (Read the full My Edmonds News coverage of the story here, Brenick has since made a full recovery and was present at the ceremony.)
Returning to the podium, Hawley continued the Meritorious Service Citations, recognizing Corporal Michael Bard for his 6-plus years of concerted work on the county-wide New World software project tying law enforcement, fire and correctional facilities together in a shared records management system, and Officer Deborah Dawson who retired this year after 29 years of service to the Edmonds Police Department. Perhaps best known in the community as a compassionate and caring animal control officer, Dawson has taught classes in animal control to other officers, and has trained and mentored officers in other departments in these duties. She has given numerous presentations in schools and to community groups about animal control, and has participated in functions at the Marina Beach dog park, PAWS, and other companion animal venues. In addition she is an accomplished musician, playing taps at many community functions and two days per month for military internment ceremonies at the Tahoma National Cemetery.
The Non-Commissioned Employee of the Year award honors a non-uniformed member of the department for significant achievement and dedication. Darcie Scheele is the friendly face behind the front counter, and as such is the first point of contact for most citizens. She is the perfect representative for the Edmonds Police when someone walks through the door. In addition, she is always ready to jump into the breach and take on additional tasks including backup property officer, report entry, fingerprinting, gun applications, and ensuring quality control of the more than 5,000 police reports filed each year. Scheele exemplifies the term “team player,” and is never afraid to volunteer to get the job at hand done and done right, Hawley noted.
The final award, the Chief David N. Stern Memorial Officer of the Year Award, went to Detective David Honnen in recognition of his 26 years of excellence with the Edmonds Police Department. In the past year alone, Honnen has been involved in three major criminal investigations including a robbery at a local pharmacy, a robbery and homicide in the Westgate QFC parking lot, and on special assignment with the tragic October 2014 Marysville-Pilchuck High School shooting. Considered one of the best detectives in Snohomish County and part of the county’s Multi-Agency Response Team, he often is called to conduct investigations in other jurisdictions. He is a shining example of excellence and a trusted mentor for new detectives, Hawley said.
The evening ended with Chief Compaan thanking all attendees and asking that we remember not only tonight’s honorees, but all the peace officers now serving and who have served nationwide.
Officer Dawson closed the evening with taps followed by a moment of silence, a fitting conclusion to this year’s Edmonds Police Department Awards Ceremony.
— Story and photos by Larry Vogel