On Missouri Public Safety Officers Recognition Day, state honors first responders and civilians with Missouri Medal of Valor and four new awards
JEFFERSON CITY – Gov. Eric Greitens today presented the Missouri Medal of Valor and four new Department of Public Safety awards to a total of 16 Missouri public safety responders from across the state and two civilians who assisted law enforcement officers in emergency situations during 2016.
Gov. Greitens also proclaimed today Missouri Public Safety Officers Recognition Day in further recognition of the extraordinary acts of bravery and public service performed by Missouri public safety professionals, and the risks they take to protect the public each day.
“Missourians are extraordinarily grateful for the risks our public safety responders are willing to assume each and every day to make our state safe,” Gov. Greitens said. “Today, it was my honor to stand with and recognize some the finest citizens our state has. Their life-saving and compassionate actions prevented deaths, strengthened communities and gave new hope to people facing adversity. I also believe it’s extremely important to recognize the civilians, who partnered with public safety officers in emergency situations and protected the public. Thank you to all who bravely acted to make a difference in their communities.”
Family members and the officers’ colleagues were on hand for the presentation of the awards during a Jefferson City ceremony, which was followed by a reception at the Governor’s Mansion for the award recipients, their families and fellow public safety professionals. The award recipients are:
Medal of Valor: Missouri’s highest award recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.
Jason Glendenning and Tyler Zimmerman, Missouri State Highway Patrol – On July 16, 2016, following heavy rain, Sgt. Glendenning and Trooper Zimmerman were deployed on a jet boat in the Niangua River in Dallas County to search for potential flooding victims. There were swift-water conditions with lots of debris in the river. They found a raft with four occupants pinned against a large downed tree. The raft was taking on water. The officers, using their extensive swift-water rescue training, quickly maneuvered the boat and rescued a woman who had fallen out. Next, they maneuvered their craft to rescue a second woman who had been thrown from the raft and was tangled in the tree and could not keep her head above water. After getting all four boaters to safety, Sergeant Glendenning and Trooper Zimmerman returned to the downed tree to cut down large branches that were a continuing danger. While working on the tree, another raft with five occupants was swept up into the tree. One occupant was immediately ejected and the raft was sinking. Working as a team, the officers rescued all of them, and then saved a kayaker and a young girl on an inner tube who had been ejected and entangled in the tree and ropes. Acting swiftly and skillfully as a team, Glendenning and Zimmerman bravely saved the lives of several people in highly treacherous flooding conditions.
Adam Brannin, Jason Francis and Rusty Rives, Joplin Police Department – Early on Aug. 13, 2016, Joplin Police Captain Rives and Officers Brannin and Francis responded to a call for a gunman firing multiple shots inside a residence. Before reaching the scene, the officers encountered the gunman firing numerous shots from an AR-15 into a church van at a traffic intersection. Francis stopped and provided assistance as Brannin and Rives pursued the gunman in a fleeing vehicle, who soon fired more shots into another vehicle. Next the gunman drove back toward the church van shooting location. Francis moved a victim with multiple gun-shot wounds out of the line of fire and prepared to provide lethal cover. Brannin and Rives continued in pursuit. The gunman eventually abandoned the vehicle while it was still moving and Brannin and Rives quickly captured him. In all, three victims at two scenes were struck by gunfire, with two of them sustaining multiple gunshot wounds. Three other victims sustained fragmentation injuries. When a gunman brought terror to the streets of Joplin, these three officers responded heroically and ended the threat of further violence. (Rives is now chief of the Lamar Police Department.)
Eli Dorsey and Brandon Sherman, Gladstone Department of Public Safety – On the night of Nov. 20, 2016, Corporal Dorsey stopped a speeding vehicle with two occupants on U.S. Highway 69. Detecting the odor of marijuana, he called for backup and Sgt. Sherman responded. The vehicle’s passenger then fled on foot. Sherman quickly reached the fleeing suspect, who then pulled a handgun from his waistband. Sherman wrestled for control of the gun and was shot in the hand. As the suspect prepared to fire again, Dorsey fired his service weapon, striking the gunman, who succumbed to his injuries. Sherman, though wounded, secured the driver of the vehicle without further incident. During a traffic stop on a dark highway, Sherman and Dorsey – in the face of grave danger – disarmed a gunman. When fired upon the officers ended the threat to the community.
Public Safety Medal of Merit: Awarded in recognition of brave actions above and beyond the call of normal duty that played a critical role in successfully resolving a situation that endangered public safety.
Jaime Solis, Richland Police Department – On March 24, 2016, Major Solis and members of the Tri-County Fire Protection District responded to a residence with a suicidal person. A distraught man was shaking uncontrollably as he held a pistol under his chin. Major Solis is a trained negotiator, but the man would not respond. Solis continued to engage with calm dialogue from his position at a doorway. Eventually, the gunman requested two firefighters exit the area, which they did, leaving only Solis and the gunman. Still unable to engage him, Solis went against his training and entered the gunman’s room. The major’s plan was to forcibly disarm him if negotiations failed. After 90 minutes, the gunman began to discuss his issues. Relying on his training, Major Solis continued to engage the gunman and eventually got him to surrender his weapon, which had a round in the chamber. At great risk to himself, Major Solis inserted himself into a dangerous position with a distraught gunman, and successfully resolved the situation.
Derek Chism, Brian Hollensteiner, Audrain County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Kings, Missouri State Highway Patrol – On Oct. 1, 2016, Sgt. Hollensteiner, Corporal Chism the three officers responded to an apartment complex in Farber, Mo. During a canvass of the complex, a resident said the problem could be in the apartment next door. Chism remained to get more information. Two women were inside the apartment in question, and sensing trouble, Hollensteiner and Chism asked to enter the apartment. Once inside, they were confronted by a man with a shotgun. The officers ordered him to drop the gun, but the gunman fired. Hollensteiner and Kings returned fire, striking the gunman. Chism radioed for assistance and all three officers provided first aid until EMS arrived. The gunman, who was a convicted murderer who had recently been released from prison, recovered and will stand trial.
Thomas Lake, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department – On the evening on Nov. 20, 2016, Sgt. Lake was in a marked police S-U-V, stopped at a traffic light in south St. Louis. A motorist pulled alongside and the driver indicated he needed assistance. Lake lowered his driver’s window. The driver then immediately fired two shots from a handgun with an extended magazine, hitting Sergeant Lake twice in the face. Despite being critically wounded, Lake was able to contact dispatch, communicate his location and then provide responding officers with a description of the gunman and his vehicle. The information helped identify the gunman and the vehicle. Later that day, officers located the gunman, who was killed in an exchange of gunfire. An investigation revealed he had been on a two-week crime spree and was wanted for murder and several armed assaults. Despite being critically wounded, Lake played a critical role in protecting fellow officers and the public by providing information resulting in locating the gunman who posed grave danger to the community.
Director’s Leadership Medal: Awarded at the command or staff level to someone whose demonstrated actions in the areas of community-oriented engagement and collaborative community-based activities have promoted an environment of greater safety, security and cooperation for community members.
Jeff Lofton, Christian County Sheriff’s Office, Patrol Division Commander – Captain Lofton is Patrol Division Commander of the Christian County Sheriff’s Office, but Lofton is focused on far more than schedules, response times and offense reports. Lofton recognizes community-involvement and engagement are essential to public safety. Captain Lofton’s duties include efforts to educate the public on community law enforcement issues, training citizens on how to better protect themselves and promoting a safer community. Through his leadership of community efforts like the Citizen’s Academy, the Youth Academy, the Women’s Self-Defense Program and the Active-Shooter Response Program, Captain Lofton has excelled at breaking down barriers to communication, developed greater trust between citizens and law enforcement and raise the level of public safety.
Garon P. Mosby, St. Louis Fire Department Command Staff Officer for Public Affairs, Community Engagement and Special Initiatives – Upon his assignment to his position, Captain Mosby set out to fundamentally remake the way the position functions to better serve the public, the media and to elevate the level of safety for the entire community. Mosby is committed to greater access, transparency and utilizing new technology. He has built personal relations with the media, including inviting them to participate in recruit training to better understand the challenges of the profession. He built and sustained relationships within the community and has found new ways to deliver fire prevention messages and critical public safety information to the public. Mosby’s efforts have not only resulted in increased fire safety in St. Louis, and a positive image of the department, it has led fire departments across the nation and even internationally to follow the St. Louis Fire Department on social media and adopt similar outreach efforts.
Tommy St. John, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Lead Tracker for Clay County Veterans and Drug Courts – In his position, Captain St. John oversees a special unit of law enforcement officers who monitor all Veterans and Drug court participants. Understanding the critical role of not just accountability, but trust and understanding, St. John insists that his team members build relationships with the offenders, as well as their family, friends and neighbors, individuals critical in gathering information that can affect the outcome of a case. St. John is not anchored to a desk. He is constantly in the field, leading his team and partner agencies by example. He also preaches “catching them doing good,” by which he means advocating just as emphatically for those who are doing right as he does against those who are doing wrong. St. John is making a positive difference in his community and, in the words of Seventh Judicial Circuit Judge Shane T. Alexander, is “tireless in his dedication and exemplary in the performance of his duties.”
Hall of Fame Award: Presented to a senior or retired public safety professional in recognition of an exemplary career of service to the state of Missouri evidenced by devoting their talents to improving the safety and security of the state’s citizens.
Chief Michael T. Force (Retired), Lake Saint Louis Police Department – For a quarter-century, Michael Force was the innovative chief of the Lake Saint Louis Police Department. Under his outstanding leadership, the Lake Saint Louis Police Department grew from 11 officers into a highly professional and respected department with three times that number of officers when he retired in August. As a retired Marine Captain with service at military installations around the globe, Chief Force insisted upon strong values and community involvement from sworn officers and civilian employees. Chief force also took a personal interest in the lives of youth, and regularly personally intervened to help turn lives around. Always engaged with community partners, Chief Force also served as President of the Missouri Police Chiefs’ Association, Chairman of the Missouri Police Chiefs’ Charitable Foundation, Chairman of the Missouri Police Officer Standards and Training Commission, and a member of the International Association of Chiefs of Police Image and Ethics Committee.
Public Safety Civilian Partnership Award: Awarded to a civilian who has provided valuable or courageous assistance to members of a Missouri public safety agency in an emergency situation.
David Lyman, Building Rehabilitation Contractor, nominated by Kansas City Police Department – On May 25, 2016, Mr. Lyman, a building contractor, was in his truck when he noticed a large group of people in the street. Mr. Lyman stopped to investigate. A female animal control officer was being attacked by a dog owner. Seeing that none of the bystanders were doing anything to stop the assault, Mr. Lyman wrapped his arms around the assailant and pulled him off the animal control officer. The assailant then pulled a metal rod and attempted to attack Mr. Lyman.
Mr. Lyman fought the assailant to the ground, only to have the assailant’s mother attack him. The assailant then stole Mr. Lyman’s truck. Kansas City Police captured the assailant after a brief pursuit.
When asked why he chose to intervene as others watched, Mr. Lyman simply stated simply that just as he would never let anyone harm one of his sisters or daughters, he would not allow anyone harm someone else’s sister or daughter.
Kenneth R. Belew, UPS Driver, nominated by Franklin County Sheriff’s Office – On Dec. 9, 2016, while making his rounds in Union, Mo., a woman handed Kenneth R. Belew a package with a message on it that read simply “Call 911.” Belew took the package without showing any reaction, returned to his truck, drove down the street and immediately contacted the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office. Upon the deputies’ arrival, Belew provided clear, detailed information about what he had observed. It was soon discovered that a woman and child were being held at gunpoint. The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office responded with additional Patrol officers and the SWAT team. When deputies went to the door of the residence, the woman who was being held escaped. The gunman remained inside with a child. After negotiating with the gunman, he agreed to surrender without further incident. Belew’s calm and prompt action in a highly volatile hostage situation resulted in the release of a woman and child being held at gunpoint.
Nominations are now open for heroic acts performed during 2017 and exceptional service that advances public safety in Missouri. Nominations must be received by March 31, 2018. Nominating forms are available on the Missouri Department of Public Safety website at https://dps.mo.gov/medal/.