Rotary Hosts Police Department Awards

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Thursday May 14, 2015

The dedicated men and women of South Burlington’s Police Department were recognized for their exemplary service to the community on May 3 at the Sunset Ballroom. In the largest turnout in its eight year history, the annual South Burlington Police Department Awards and Recognition Ceremony, hosted by the Rotary Club of South Burlington, honored the city’s public guardians with well deserved awards.

President of the Rotary Club of South Burlington, Sandy Walsh, introduced the renowned guest speaker of the evening, Capt. Richard Phillips — the merchant mariner who served as captain during the Maersk Alabama hijacking. Phillips, through his story, spoke of the importance of preparation, decision-making, and resilience. Phillips recognized the best of these qualities in the SBPD and provided three takeaways.

“First, you are much stronger than you even know,” he said. “You can do more, and you can take more; it’s already within you. Two: nothing is over unless we choose to give up. Lastly, a dedicated, focused, professional team can overcome pretty much any obstacle or solve almost any problem.”

City Council Chair Pat Nowak, on behalf of the city, expressed deep gratitude for the department’s work, and Police Chief Trevor Whipple said that the department’s accomplishments gives him great pride. “You’re doing amazing things every day that go unnoticed,” he said to his team. Even so, there were many acts that caught the public’s attention resulting in the following awards to the SBPD as well as citizens.

Citizen Service Award

Awarded for: “Personal assistance by a civilian in apprehending a criminal, or in extending oneself beyond one’s own safety to aid people who are in danger. Or, to any citizen who assists the Department in furthering their mission of protecting the community whether it is through community policing efforts or other means.”

William Hunt was awarded for taking care of an elderly woman with dementia who was missing from an assisted living facility. She was underdressed for the cold conditions in October 2014, and he allowed her to stay warm and dry in his car while calling SBPD, who delivered her home safely.

Certificate of Commendation

Awarded for: “A creditable accomplishment that needs to be acknowledged by the Department, or the police profession, but, doesn’t rise to the level of an award.”

Officer Sean Pope was awarded for halting a high-speed pursuit on April 2, 2015 for the sake of public safety (suspect drove over 100 mph in a 25 mph zone), and instead conducted a thorough investigation which led to the eventual apprehension and arrest of the suspect.

Animal Control Officer JoAnn Nichols was recognized for her dedication and expertise which has been well-received by the entire community. From May 2014-April 2015 Nichols handled over 94 animal problem complaints. Nichols also initiated the Officer “Chili” Program where she educated citizens and guests about keeping animals safe during the summer months.

Detective Cpl. Ronald Bliss was awarded for removing a dangerous and mentally-unstable individual from society. April 2014, a caller left threats on SBPD department voicemails and threatened Howard mental health employees and at least one judge. Detective Cpl. Bliss worked with the phone company, the State’s Attorney’s Office, NY authorities where the suspect lived, and federal agencies. The suspect was arrested on federal charges.

Acting Sgt. Jonathan Namdar was honored for unveiling a key piece of evidence that led to a cause of death. SBPD responded to a report of a deceased male on Shelburne Rd. in June 2014 where then Detective Cpl. Namdar located an unmarked glassine fold which he was able to link to another ongoing drug and money laundering investigation that led to the federal arrest of two suspects.

Service Award

The following individuals have been employed by the SBPD for five years: Officer First Class Daniel Boyer, Officer First Class Brianne Williamson. Ten year recipients: Cpl. Jeffrey Favreau, Cpl. Kevin Grealis, Records Clerk Pamela Opferman, Cpl. Andrew Traynor. Fifteen years of service: Sgt. James Mills, Sgt. Edward Soychak. The following individuals have been employed by the SBPD for 20 years: Sgt. Andrew Chaulk and Sgt. Douglas Dubie.

Distinguished Achievement Award

Awarded for: “A highly creditable accomplishment, bringing public acclaim to the Officer, the Department, or the police profession, as a result of training, devotion to duty, education or service to the public.”

Dispatcher Rebecca Forsell was recognized for expertly handling a high-stress situation as the lone dispatcher on a December 2014 call from Venue Nightclub where a fight broke out in the parking lot. She took swift action to send for additional resources, provided identification and record checks, and coordinated response procedures with the on-duty police Sgt. and the fire Lt. for treating a stab victim in the midst of an unruly crowd.

Sgt. Andrew Chaulk was honored with this award for his participation in three significant Internet Crimes Against Children investigations, all of which resulted in the apprehension of online child predators as well as convicted sex offenders who were actively assaulting children. These investigations spanned from 2013-2015.

Detective Cpl. Matthew Plunkett was recognized for the successful execution of two drug investigations. In late 2013-mid 2014, he investigated a criminal organization and seized over 2,000 bags of heroin, about $10,000, and two firearms. In another case, he seized approximately two ounces of cocaine, $2,000, and multiple firearms after conducting multiple controlled purchases.

Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson and Detective Cpl. Sarah Superneau were recognized for apprehending a sex predator who targeted mostly 13-year-old females. They began a joint investigation in which Detective Cpl. Superneau posed as a thirteen year old girl on Facebook and connected with the suspect who arranged to meet her online persona at a specific location. He was apprehended with the help of multiple agencies.

Unit Citation

Awarded for: “Participation of an Officer or Officers of an operating unit, and/or the entire Departmental Staff in a cited action.”

Officer Christopher Matott, Officer Kenneth Soffen, Officer Dale Crispin, Officer Kyle Brouilette, Officer Sean Pope, Officer Michael DeFiore, Officer First Class Daniel Boyer, Detective Cpl. Ronald Bliss, Detective Cpl. Sarah Superneau, Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson, Detective Cpl. Matthew Plunkett, Cpl. Andrew Traynor, Cpl. Dennis Ward, Acting Sgt. Jonathan Namdar, Sgt. Gerard Eno, Sgt. Andrew Chaulk, Sgt. Doug Dubie, Sgt. Daniel Fitzgerald, Dispatcher Shannon Yandow, Dispatcher Jessica Sanborn, Dispatcher Daniel Greaves and Crime Analyst Kelli Hier were recognized for executing a prostitution sting in June 2014. SBPD placed an online ad on a website known to be used by prostitutes which received 40 contacts. Of those 40 people, seven of them arrived at a meeting location and all were apprehended, interviewed, and released on a citation to appear at court on the charge of Prohibited Acts.

Officer Sarah Keller, Cpl. Keith Miller, Sgt. Andrew Chaulk, Lt. Shawn Demore, Cpl. Dennis Ward, Deputy Chief Paul Edwards, Officer Nicholas Holden, Detective Cpl. Ronald Bliss, Lt. Jeffery Martel, Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson, Acting Sgt. Jonathan Namdar, Cpl. Jeffery Favreau, Cpl. Kevin Grealis, Detective Cpl. Sarah Superneau, Sgt. Daniel Fitzgerald, Officer Patrick Mulcahy, Officer Daniel Boyer, Dispatcher Jessica Sanborn, Dispatcher Daniel Greaves and Dispatcher Moira Adams were awarded for handling a protest that got out of hand at Vermont Gas on Swift St. in May 2014, resulting in one injured employee. While still respecting protestors’ right to Freedom of Speech, the SBPD ultimately arrested four subjects, charges to include Unlawful Trespass and Simple Assault.

Sgt. James Mills, Sgt. Edward Soychak, Acting Sgt. Jonathan Namdar, Cpl. Keith Miller, Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson, Detective Cpl. Sarah Superneau, Detective Cpl. Ronald Bliss, Officer First Class Karen Chevalier, Officer First Class Daniel Boyer, Officer First Class Michael DeFiore, Officer Kyle Brouillette (retired), Officer Dale Crispin, Officer Kenneth Soffen, Dispatcher Moira Adams, Dispatcher Rebecca Forsell, Dispatcher Jessica Sanborn and Dispatcher Nicole Belida were all recognized for their work with other agencies regarding the investigation of several fraud complaints in August 2014. Hannaford employees recognized two suspects, and officers gathered sufficient information that led to the suspects’ arrests.

Lt. Jeffrey Martel, Detective Sgt. Daniel Fitzgerald, Sgt. Daniel Brunelle Sgt. Gerard Eno, Sgt. David Solomon (retired) Sgt. Greggory Jager (retired), Acting Sgt. Jonathan Namdar, Cpl. Dennis Ward, Cpl. Darren Beers, Cpl. Mark Redmond, Detective Cpl. Matthew Plunkett, Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson, Detective Cpl. Sarah Superneau, Detective Cpl. Ronald Bliss, Officer First Class Karen Chevalier, Officer Kelsey Monroe, Officer Sarah Bellavance, Dispatcher Daniel Greaves, Dispatcher Moira Adams, Dispatcher Michele Hammond, Dispatcher Rebecca Forsell, Dispatcher Jessica Sanborn and Dispatcher Shannon Yandow were honored for investigating several robberies and working with other agencies within the county. Two robbery suspects were apprehended.

Chief Trevor Whipple, Lt. Jeffrey Martel, Detective Sgt. Daniel Fitzgerald, Sgt. Andrew Chaulk, Sgt. Edward Soychak, Detective Cpl. Andrew Johnson, Detective Cpl. Sarah Superneau, Officer First Class Michael DeFiore, Officer First Class Daniel Boyer, Officer Chris Matott, Dispatcher Moira Adams and Dispatcher Rebecca Forsell were recognized for not only uncovering underage prostitution activity on Feb. 2, 2015, but for receiving cooperation from those involved and overcoming adversity.

Meritorious Service

Awarded for: “A highly unusual accomplishment, under adverse condition with some degree of hazard to life and limb to the nominee, or where death or injury to a third party is prevented.”

March 2015: Officer Christopher Bataille and Officer Michael DeFiore responded to an emergency at the Ethan Allen Motel where they found an unresponsive male. Officer DeFiore checked for signs of life, and when he saw inconsistencies, he administered chest compressions as Officer Bataille arrived to assist. The male was transported to the emergency room where he later made a full recovery after an overdose.
Officer First Class Daniel Boyer and Officer Patrick Mulcahy are awarded for administering life-saving procedures on an unresponsive male at a business on Green Tree Drive. Officer Boyer performed chest compressions while Officer Mulcahy provided oxygen by squeezing air through a CPR bag. The officers continued giving CPR, the fire department arrived, and the male was transported to UVM Medical Center.

2015 Employee of the Year

Any employee of the South Burlington Police Department is eligible for this award, with nominations made by the recipient’s peers.   Nominations may be made for exceptional achievement in any work related endeavor, including but not limited to: extraordinary valor, crime prevention, investigative work, community relations, traffic safety, drug control and prevention, juvenile programs, training efforts, records management, dispatching and diversion programs.  The employee may also exhibit exceptional motivation to others, leadership skills, dedication to duty, teamwork and/or positive attitude.”

Records Clerk Kelly Snyder: For 31 years, Snyder’s been in charge of organizing and maintaining all the criminal and civil records, entering data into the records management system, and preparing court paperwork. Last year, she prepared at least 2.5 cases per day for court, as the SBPD made 592 arrests with over 15,000 calls for service. Snyder also ensures that all records are in compliance with the National Incident Based Reporting System. All this along with her upbeat and positive demeanor helped her earn this accolade.

Congratulations to all award recipients, and thank you to the members of the SBPD who serve and protect the city’s well-being each and every day.

SOURCE: Miranda Johswold, Correspondent