By Liza Turner, Contributing Writer
Photographs by Convention Photo by Joe Orlando
he IACP and Target announced and recognized the IACP/Target International Police Officer of the Year winner and honorable mentions at an awards luncheon and ceremony during the 2012 IACP Conference in San Diego, California. IACP Immediate Past President Walter A. McNeil reiterated his gratitude toward the brave award recipients. “One of the greatest honors for me as IACP president is to recognize the men and women who put their lives on the line daily to protect the citizens they serve,” he said. “This award can’t be overemphasized because it exemplifies some of the very best that law enforcement has to offer.”
Brad Brekke, vice president of corporate security at Target, expressed a similar sentiment, commending the caliber of the nominees as well as the general mission the award highlights: “Target’s proud partnership with the IACP helps us build strong, healthy, and safe communities. That’s why we are honored to jointly present the International Police Officer of the Year awards to these worthy individuals.”
|Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Police Officer of the Year Lieutenant Adam Kosheba, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, and Chief John Batiste|
Lieutenant Adam Kosheba, Police Officer of the Year
Lieutenant Kosheba, who is also a firefighter and a former paramedic, has been with the Pennsylvania State Police for more than 19 years. In a June 2011 raid, Kosheba relied on his extensive medical and law enforcement training when faced with the perfect storm of factors: an armed fugitive, a wounded fellow officer, and extreme terrain. When task force members arrived at the home of Matthew Connor to arrest him on burglary, firearms, and assault charges, the suspect fled. Pursued by officers and a K-9 unit, Connor opened fire with an AK-47 rifle, striking Deputy Kyle Pagerly. When officers rushed to Pagerly’s side, they had to contend with a loyal police dog leery of those attempting to assist his devoted handler. As Kosheba stated, this was a concern reciprocal in nature: “It was clear from my very first conversation with Kyle that . . . he truly loved his K-9 partner, Jynx.” In the midst of this harrowing scene, Kosheba returned fire, killing Connor. He then immediately focused his attentions on Pagerly, helping to calm Jynx and providing medical assistance. Along with fellow officers, Kosheba then carried the gravely wounded Pagerly to a police vehicle nearly a half mile away. As Pagerly was transported to the medical helicopter landing site, Kosheba continued to administer first aid—efforts that while ultimately unsuccessful, speak to Kosheba’s commitment to his team.
When asked whether incidents like this remind him why he became a police officer or make him second-guess the decision, Kosheba remarked, “As altruistic as it sounds, I became a trooper to make our world a little better place. Every little kid dreams of what they want to be when they grow up . . . and while some lose touch with that dream over time, I was lucky to attain exactly what I wanted to be: a Pennsylvania State Trooper.”
|Sheriff Mark Marshall, Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Sergeant Michael Brown, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, Colonel Nelson Garcia, and Chief John Batiste|
|Sheriff Mark Marshall, Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Sergeant Jason Clawson, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, Colonel Nelson Garcia, and Chief John Batiste|
|Sheriff Mark Marshall, Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Deputy Sheriff/Detective Nicole Freeley, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, Colonel Nelson Garcia, and Chief|
|Sheriff Mark Marshall, Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Sergeant Nate Hutchinson, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, Colonel Nelson Garcia, and Chief John Batiste|
|Sheriff Mark Marshall, Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Investigator Darrell Moore, Investigator John Munn, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, Colonel Nelson Garcia, and Chief John Batiste|
|Sheriff Sheriff Mark Marshall, Chief Patrick Foley, Chief Ronal Serpas, Chief Craig Steckler, Officer Sam Lenda, Lieutenant Brian Murphy, Chief Richard Beary, Chief Jim Craze, Chief Kent Barker, Colonel Nelson Garcia, and Chief John Batiste|
Sergeant Michael Brown responded to a 9-1-1 call describing an apparent kidnapping in September 2011. A Florida woman’s estranged boyfriend had tricked her into getting into his car, assaulted her, and led police on a high-speed chase that ended as the car plunged into the Indian River. Despite the crash, the suspect continued to assault the woman by stabbing her repeatedly—thus provoking Brown to draw his service weapon and fire six times. With the assistance of an off-duty police officer, Brown then rescued the woman from the locked passenger door by breaking the window. The woman, who sustained more than 20 stab wounds and a broken wrist, is alive today in large part because of Brown’s efforts.
According to Sheriff Jack Parker, incidents such as this are rare, but Brown’s heroic actions were not. “Sergeant Mike Brown has been the example of the type of law enforcement officer who we would all hope to be when the most dangerous and life-threatening situations present themselves,” Parker said.
Sergeant Jason Clawson was nominated because of his extraordinary commitment to the Special Enforcement Section of the Pasadena, California, Police Department, a unit that oversees gang, narcotics, and parole enforcement. From 2011 through 2012, Clawson supervised the California Association of Tactical Officer’s SWAT Team of the Year; created and supervised the FBI–Pasadena Police Department Safe Streets Gang Task Force; created the Parole Reintegration and Enforcement Program, actively working with nonprofits, clinics, and private companies to help transition parolees; and was an integral voice in the creation of the City Resources Against Slum Housing program.
In describing his reaction to the honorable mention commendation, Clawson said, “This award may be for individual accomplishments, but I only reached to this level working with and alongside the men and women of Pasadena Police Department’s Special Enforcement Section.”
Deputy Sheriff/Detective Nicole Freeley has been a tireless advocate for children throughout her career. As a member of the Strategic Investigations Division, Freeley is assigned to the South Florida Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force and initiated a multijurisdictional sting operation in May 2011 that recovered eight children from a prostitution ring in Broward County. In addition, Freeley’s efforts helped lead to the arrest and the conviction of three of the brothel’s organizers.
Freeley was described by the nominating officer, Lieutenant Richard Pisanti, as a “bulldog,” proudly stating that “once she gets a tip or a lead, she will uncover every possible clue and put in countless hours of her own time to assure no predator that she investigates will get away.”
Sergeant Nate Hutchinson is the supervisor of the Weber Morgan Narcotics Strike Force that executed a January 2012 search warrant at the Utah home of a suspected indoor marijuana operation. The team was ambushed by an armed suspect, who fired at multiple officers and fatally wounded one. Despite being shot in the torso and the arm, Hutchinson was able to fire back and help rescue a fellow wounded officer.
Nominating officer Sergeant Steve Zaccardi said that “Hutchinson saved the life of [fellow] Agent Kasey Burrell. Hutchinson was shot three times at close range while pulling his men to safety; if that is not extraordinary valor, I don’t know what is.”
Investigator Darrell Moore and Investigator John Munn have a tireless drive for justice. As a result of their efforts, a wrongfully convicted Illinois man sentenced to first 75 years in prison, which was then lowered to 70 years by an appeals court, for a murder he did not commit walked free after serving 10 years. Moore and Munn reinterviewed witnesses, located additional witnesses, and presented a compelling case to the state’s attorney’s office after new evidence brought the suspect’s guilt into question. This appeal ultimately led to a motion vacating the conviction.
Commander Paul Nelson, who nominated Moore and Munn, was quick to point out that these actions reflect both officers’ professional standards: “Their work in this case is typical of the exemplary performance of duty they have consistently demonstrated over their years at the Aurora, Illinois, Police Department. They are a credit to themselves, our city, our department, and our profession.”
Lieutenant Brian Murphy and Officer Sam Lenda, with more than 50 years’ combined experience with the Oak Creek, Wisconsin, Police Department, risked their lives and saved others on the morning of August 5, 2012, when both arrived at the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin after shots were reportedly fired. As the first responder, Murphy quickly realized that two victims already lay deceased in the parking lot. Murphy’s attentions then turned to the suspect who had exited the temple and began firing shots and ignoring Murphy’s orders to disarm. Gunfire was exchanged, leaving Murphy severely injured. At this point, Lenda arrived on the scene and ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. The suspect refused and continued to fire at both officers until Lenda returned fire, issuing a fatal wound.
The nominating officer, Chief John Edwards, commended not only the extraordinary bravery but also the extraordinary composure of Murphy and Lenda: “Both of these officers are experienced, well-trained officers who exemplify what officers should represent.” ♦
Please cite as:
Liza Turner, "The IACP/Target International Police Officer of the Year Award," The Police Chief 79 (December 2012): 78–79.