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4/3/2013 8:48:00 AM
Prescott Valley Police honor top officers, units
Interim Police Chief James Edelstein congratulates Prescott Valley Police Departmentís Officer of the Year Tony Lawrence during a banquet Friday night.
TribPhoto/Heidi Dahms Foster
Interim Police Chief James Edelstein congratulates Prescott Valley Police Departmentís Officer of the Year Tony Lawrence during a banquet Friday night.
TribPhoto/Heidi Dahms Foster
Members of the Patrol Unit congratulate each other after winning the Prescott Valley Police Departmentís Unit of the Year honors for 2012. The officers accepted the award during the departmentís annual banquet Friday night at StoneRidge.
TribPhoto/Heidi Dahms Foster
Members of the Patrol Unit congratulate each other after winning the Prescott Valley Police Departmentís Unit of the Year honors for 2012. The officers accepted the award during the departmentís annual banquet Friday night at StoneRidge.
TribPhoto/Heidi Dahms Foster
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Members of the Prescott Valley Police Department gathered at StoneRidge on Friday, March 30, 2013 for their annual awards banquet. Officers, civilian staff and volunteers accepted awards for lifesaving, valor and excellent service. State Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, a New York Police lieutenant's son, spoke to attendees, and Interim Police Chief James Edelstein handed out the awards.
Heidi Dahms-Foster
Special to the Tribune

In the wake of a tough couple of months for the Prescott Valley Police Department that saw the resignation of Police Chief Bill Fessler and a controversy over radar enforcement tickets, PV officers and families gathered Friday night for a more positive event - highlighting the accomplishments of individuals and department units during 2012.

Arizona Speaker of the House Andy Tobin, who is the son of a New York Police lieutenant, spoke to the officers about their choice of career, their role in the community, and the support of their families.

Interim Police Chief James Edelstein handed out the department's annual honors during the banquet at StoneRidge. Supervisors nominated the officers for the awards. Following are the honorees and excerpts from their nominations.

Officer of the Year: Tony Lawrence

Lawrence accepted the Police Meritorious Service Ribbon, awarded for "sustained long-term, noteworthy achievement throughout the calendar year."

"During the past year, Officer Tony Lawrence has shown himself to be a leader on his squad. Officer Lawrence has shown a positive influence in the community while taking an interest in performing impaired driver investigations, taking part in the local Talk of the Town radio show, sharing with the community the importance of DUI enforcement, working with MATforce on underage drinking and working plain clothes details.

"During the past year, Officer Lawrence was near the top of every category on his squad for every different type of work measure."

Civilian of the Year: Animal Control Officer Don Plate

"Don has shown his excellent and professional performance in all of his job duties and responsibilities. In 2012, animal control wrote more than 20 percent of the reports taken by our department. Don's ability to stay focused and be attentive to all of his responsibilities and tasks in completing his duties has been exceptional and excellent. He has an extremely high dedication, positive attitude, devotion to excellence, and a willingness to help others.

"Don has trained recruits on animal control duties, participated in National Night Out, given community talks, participated in Shop with a Cop, and volunteered to be an actor for SWAT trainings. He shows confidence in his abilities and performs them in a professional manner."

Rookie of the Year: Officer Bobby Ruiz

"Officer Bobby Ruiz has a great attitude towards police work, his fellow officers, and the community he serves. I personally saw an example of that one day when I rode with him on patrol. He stopped at the skate park and gave a teenager a bandage for a scrape on her arm. She hadn't asked for help, but he noticed the injury and went out of his way to fish the bandage out of his first aid kit and help her to put it on. I know that young lady won't forget that. Bobby is confident, yet not cocky; knowledgeable, yet always willing to learn and ask questions; always vigilant, and approachable by the citizens he serves. His work ethic is so strong, a new word, "Taloning," was coined by his squad to describe his practice of swooping into a scene and hooking his claws into the work and getting it done."

Unit of the Year: Patrol

This accomplishment must be the result of a combined effort by members of the section/unit.

"From 2007 to 2012 patrol went from 48 personnel to 33, a reduction of 33 percent. During that time period, the number of dispatched calls handled per officer increased by 20 percent. The number of overall incidents such as traffic stops, field interviews, and business checks per officer increased by 60 percent, the number of arrests per officer increased by 13 percent, and during this increase in workload the response time to high priority calls was improved by 45 seconds. In 2012, more personnel were either off the schedule completely or on light duty due to more assaults on our personnel than any year in recent memory. Through these challenges, patrol maintained a high level of service evidenced by a low level of complaints and concerns from our citizens and a high number of commendations."

Volunteer of the Year: Jeff Cook

"Jeff volunteered more than 800 hours in 2012. He is happy to be around and goes above and beyond every day he serves to complete extra patrol, write parking tickets and assist police with calls for service. Jeff is most welcome on any scene and provides invaluable assistance to our officers and the community. Jeff is a great example of the dedicated VIPs that work for the Town of Prescott Valley."

Community Policing Award: Jake Lichlyter

In 2012, Officer Lichlyter proved himself to be a community-oriented officer. He volunteered for numerous community events, took extra time to solve community issues and showed great pride in being a liaison between the community and the Prescott Valley Police Department.

"In 2012, Jake took a week-long bike officer certification, and then started using his bike in the Entertainment District. He was complimented by numerous citizens, who said his extra bicycle patrol was making the area safer. Officer Lichlyter volunteered outside of his normal shift to take part in National Night Out.

"On one occasion, Officer Lichlyter took the extra time to deal with an elderly male subject who was suffering from Alzheimer's. After the subject was forced to return home with no help, Officer Lichlyter took extra time to research and find a distant relative of the man. Just a couple of days later, his family was able to travel across several states to get him help and take him back to their home where they could properly care for him."

Officer Lichlyter has received numerous commendations for his ability to solve community problems and to be a good police officer."

Police Chief's Commendation: Criminal Investigations

In 2012, the criminal investigations section investigated five homicides in the town limits, the most ever experienced in one year. One case involved a double homicide in which the suspect traveled across the country from Missouri to kill his sister-in-law. Members of CIS spent more than 18 hours processing the scene in order to develop enough evidence to charge the suspect with First Degree Murder.

"Another homicide involved an intricate crime scene sprawling over two apartments. Based on the interview and an in-depth investigation at the scene piecing the events together detectives were able to determine the exact events as they were played out.

"The CIS team consists of members who are always positive, enjoy their work, step up to help out other areas of the department when asked and are always striving to do their jobs better for the benefit of our community and our department."

Lifesaving Award: Corporal Kaufman and Officer Whisenand

"On Friday, March 16, 2012, Cpl. Kaufman was serving as the day shift patrol supervisor. At 3:53 pm, dispatch hot-toned a call of a residential structure fire on Preston Drive. Cpl. Kaufman and Officer Whisenand were the first emergency responders to arrive on-scene where heavy black smoke and flames were streaming from the residence. They discovered that one of the residents was still in the building trying to fight the fire. Without regard for their own safety, Cpl. Kaufman and Officer Whisenand ran into the burning residence, located the lone occupant who was trying to fight the fire with his garden hose, and safely evacuated him from the house. A neighbor witness stated they didn't even pause. Cpl. Kaufman also received treatment on scene for minor smoke inhalation."

Medal of Valor: Sgt. Jacob Jackson, Cpl. Tyran Payne and Officer Keven O'Hagan

To be awarded the Medal of Valor, an officer shall have performed an act displaying extreme courage while consciously facing imminent peril.

"On April 17th 2010, Sergeant Jacob Jackson, Corporal Tyran Payne and Officer Keven O'Hagan responded to a domestic violence call. Officers encountered the suspect armed with a knife, and the suspect lunged at the officers. The officers had no other decision than to defend themselves against the attack.

"Over two and a half years later the family of the suspect filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the officers and the Town of Prescott Valley, resulting in a lengthy trial. The jury ruled in favor of the officers and the Town. Throughout, Sgt. Jackson, Cpl. Payne and Officer O'Hagan represented themselves and the Town of Prescott Valley with the utmost professionalism, vigilance, pride, and dedication."

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Reader Comments

Posted: Friday, May 10, 2013
Article comment by: Billy Jack

It's sad that a couple of crooked officer's taint the entire department in many people's opinion's. For that reason, the Lt. and Sgt. should be given charged (if possible) or at least fired.

Posted: Thursday, May 9, 2013
Article comment by: peter white

Congrats to all the officers who received awards. However, due to all of the ongoing misdeeds that LEO's in this county have committed, the awards are tainted. People have to look at ALL of these officers and wonder if they also are corrupt and not a true example of a "fine officer". It's a shame that the good officers have remained quiet about all of this.

Posted: Wednesday, April 10, 2013
Article comment by: Me Too

Yeah I would also like to know what's going on with the ticket fixing. Or is this confidential information?

Posted: Monday, April 8, 2013
Article comment by: curious citizen

Really... I think this is bad timing here.
I think we ( the ciitizens of PV) deserve reports and updates on all that this dept.is involved in.Rather than reading about a pat on the back. We need more transparency. I am sure some of our cops are good guys, but waiting to hear whats up with the rest is tarring them all.And waiting to hear who is bad, this is way to long.....
About the valor award... what did it cost to defend.this behavior..
3 guys, guns ,a guy and a knife. Guy with knife dead. I thought that you were called peacekeepers....Please ,whats the update on the ticket fixin? The punishments? TheIBMC december debacle.


Posted: Thursday, April 4, 2013
Article comment by: What Valor

I agree with the other PV resident. Where's the valor for 3 officers killing a guy with a knife? I can't believe with all their problems going on that the PVPD would dish out an award for something like this.

Posted: Wednesday, April 3, 2013
Article comment by: PV Resident

If this would have been printed 2 days earlier I would have thought it was an April fools gag. Give me a break a Medal of Valor for 3 cops shooting a guy with a knife whose family then sues the City for a wrongful death. Where is the valor there? I must be missing something. Only in Prescott Valley. Heck I could have handled the situation better myself and the guy would still be alive. I went to jail for 4 months for tackling someone who was coming at me with his fist raised and nobody was even hurt. Where is my Medal?



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