Citizens, officers honored at awards ceremony

Discover who was awarded certificates and medals
by the Portland Police Bureau – and why …

The Portland Police Bureau’s Honor Guard starts off the awards ceremony.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
Officers and citizens in Portland Police Bureau’s East and Southeast Precincts took away honors at the Horner Performing Arts Center at David Douglas High School on January 16.

Many officers were given awards. Here are some of the award presentations, as read by the Bureau’s spokespersons – Sgt. Brian Schmautz and Officer Catherine Kent:

EAST PRECINCT

Acting Sergeant Michael Gallagher receives the Portland Police Bureau’s Achievement Medal.

Acting Sergeant Michael Gallagher – Achievement Medal
Officer Mike Gallagher is a dedicated employee of the Portland Police Bureau, who in addition to his regular assignment, volunteers thousands of hours to the East Precinct Cadets and the Bureau’s PEER support team.

Over the years, Gallagher has been a respected leader and advisor for the East Precinct Law Enforcement Cadet Post, which affords youth the opportunity of exploring the field of law enforcement. Officer Gallagher’s mentorship and guidance has greatly assisted youths in their career development, and he leaves a marked impression on youth of service, and dedication to duty and to the community.

Officer Gallagher volunteers numerous administrative hours in maintaining required documents, statistics, and finances.  He also provides direct supervision, coordination, instruction, training, and guidance to the youth involved in the program. He is directly involved in detail functions, recruiting, and fundraising, and provides continued education to the cadets.

Additionally, Gallagher has been involved in the PEER assistance program for more than nine years. He helped create the first PEER support team in the Portland Police Bureau, and continues to function as the PEER support coordinator. He spends thousands of volunteer hours making sure that fellow Portland Police Officers remain healthy and on the job.

Gallagher displays great passion for others, and he does it with a smile and deep concern for the safety and welfare of citizens and Bureau members.

(Editor’s note: Mike Gallagher has been helped appreciated by many outer East Portland neighborhoods and business associations because of his assistance and support.)

Lieutenant Tim Sessions receives the Portland Police Bureau’s Achievement Medal.

Lieutenant Tim Sessions – Achievement Medal
Lieutenant Tim Sessions has made a significant contribution to the development and training of Bureau personnel in the multiple disciplines of Radio Communication Systems, Mobile Digital Computers, and the Computer-Aided Dispatch systems used by the Portland Police Bureau.

In 1994, the Computer-Aided Dispatch systems came on line.  Lieutenant Tim Sessions, (who at that time was still an officer working night shift) became one of the first CAD/MDC training instructors, writing the training manual and providing initial training to other instructors.

(Editor’s note: Sessions was a great East Precinct sergeant before his recent promotion to lieutenant and his transfer to Southeast Precinct. He worked with many neighborhood outreach programs, including the Summer Cop’s Ice Cream Program with Madison South Neighborhood chair Ruth Hander.)

Sgt. Deborah Steigleder and retired officer Dan Thompson receiving the Portland Police Bureau Life Saving Medal.

Sgt. Deborah Steigleder and retired officer Dan Thompson – Portland Police Bureau Life Saving Medal
On May 21st, 2006, Sergeant Deborah Steigleder and Officer Dan Thompson were dispatched to a residence in Southeast Portland on a report of a Domestic Dispute.

Prior to their arrival, officers received information from police dispatch that the male occupant had tried to strangle the female occupant and that the male occupant had a knife and was about to stab himself.

Steigleder and Thompson knew that the woman inside the residence was likely in grave danger. They entered, made their presence known, and got the endangered female safely out of the house.

The male was in the kitchen area, stabbing himself in the stomach. Sergeant Steigleder and Officer Dan Thompson were too far away from the man to use their less-lethal taser. They gave commands to drop the knife and then approached him. Steigleder’s taser shot stopped the suicidal man’s actions, and they were able to take him into custody without further harm to the himself or to others. Their decisive actions undoubtedly saved several lives.

This large group of officers were honored for the actions they took during the September 6, 2007 family murder and suicide on NE Glisan St.

Police Medals to Officer Todd Christensen, Officer Carlos Pagan, Officer Spencer Sheldon; Achievement Medals to Sergeants David Golliday, Erin Smith, Robert McCormick and Officers John Billard, Lacey Sparling, Heath Kula, Christopher McDonald and Michael Gallagher

On the night of September 6, 2007, East Precinct Officers were dispatched to check on the welfare of a family who resided in Northeast Portland.  Police Dispatch had received a call from a concerned friend. The friend had received an e-mail which suggested that the one of the family members might be intent on committing suicide.  This was the only information the officers received prior to their arrival.

Officers Todd Christensen, Carlos Pagan and Spencer Sheldon arrived at the location and observed a vehicle idling in the driveway. Officer Sheldon noticed a hose connected to the vehicle exhaust. The hose was being used to transport exhaust fumes from the car into a sealed bedroom in the home.  Officer Sheldon immediately disconnected the hose while the other two officers attempted to make entry into the home.  Officer Christensen found the back door unlocked and all three officers entered the home, which was now completely engulfed in exhaust fumes. During their search, the officers were increasingly overrun by the exhaust fumes and ported several windows in order to ventilate the home. The officers searched the home for possible survivors and found three people: A father, mother and five-year-old child in one of the bedrooms. Officer Pagan immediately removed the child from the toxic home and began to administer CPR.  Officer Christensen assisted in providing CPR to the child until he was later relieved by arriving AMR personnel.

Within minutes, more uniformed personnel arrived on scene, and without hesitation entered the gas-filled home and assisted with ventilating the home, removing victims from the home and providing CPR to the victims.  Sergeants Dave Golliday and Robert McCormick, along with Officers Sheldon and Gallagher removed the adult male from the home. Sergeant Smith, Sergeant Golliday and Officer Sparling removed the adult female from the home.  Officer Pagan and Officer McDonald helped perform CPR on the adult victims.  Officer Kula assisted with the care of the adult victims.

The sergeants’ and officers’ efforts were described by AMR personnel as extraordinary, and the shift lieutenant praised their selfless actions, indicating he had never witnessed such heroic efforts to preserve life.  Unfortunately, the duration of the exposure to the toxic gas caused the eventual deaths of all three victims.

Above and beyond
After the ceremony, Commander Michael Crebs commented, “I’m very proud of each and every one of our people.  They do good work. They all go above and beyond the call of duty and are committed to the community. You have the finest people serving the citizens of East Precinct.”

SE Precinct Awards

Citizen Susan Kuhnhausen is awarded the Civilian Medal – Heroism.

Citizen Susan Kuhnhausen – Civilian Medal – Heroism
On September 6, 2006, Susan Kuhnhausen, an emergency room nurse, arrived at her Southeast Portland residence to find an armed intruder awaiting her inside the home. The police investigation later revealed that the armed intruder had been hired to kill her. Armed with a hammer, the intruder violently assaulted Ms. Kuhnhausen. Even though she was struck several times, Kuhnhausen kept fighting and never gave up. She wrestled the hammer away from the intruder and hit him on the head. She escaped to a neighbor’s home, and called police.

Her sheer determination to survive this encounter has provided reassurance to crime victims everywhere that anything is possible. Ms. Kuhnhausen has a peace-loving demeanor, and has possessed a very calm and assured composure throughout this arduous event.

Officer Robert Pickett accepts the Commendation Medal for himself and the Certificate of Appreciation for his absent partner, Officer Robert Quick.

Officer Robert Pickett – Commendation Medal; Officer Robert Quick, Certificate of Appreciation
Officer Robert Pickett has been the catalyst to ensuring the success of the bicycle patrol. In addition, Officer Robert Quick has greatly assisted in the overall mission of the bicycle patrol. Their primary mission is to reduce crime and the fear of crime, improve the quality of life in the neighborhoods, improve community and police partnerships and provide an increased police presence in Southeast neighborhoods. The bicycle patrol has accomplished and often times exceeded this mission. They have worked alongside the community to identify problem areas that were negatively impacting the neighborhoods.  The identified problems included: homelessness, inebriated subjects panhandling and trespassing, graffiti, car prowls and the lack of visible police presence.

Area residents have not only expressed their gratitude to the bike officers, but have written numerous letters praising the officers for their work.

The bicycle officers rescued one suicide jumper from the Sellwood Bridge and arrested a prolific sex offender who was harassing women as they jogged in inner SE Portland. The bicycle patrol has made a positive imprint on Southeast Portland.

Officer West Helfrich accepts the Life Saving Medal for himself for his absent partner, Officer Tim Lowry.

Officers West Helfrich and Tim Lowry – Life Saving Medal
On June 9, 2006, Officers West Helfrich and Tim Lowry were dispatched to a residence in Southeast Portland on a report of a suicidal subject.

On their arrival, the officers observed a distraught man leaning out of a fourth-story window with more than 30 pounds of weightlifting weights tied around his neck and chest. Officer Helfrich heard the man state: “I might as well get this over with”!  Recognizing the immediate danger, Officer Helfrich distracted the man by yelling to him, “Hold on a minute, I have something to give you.”

This action allowed the officers to buy valuable time. Officer Helfrich ran up four flights of stairs to the man’s apartment. Officer Lowry engaged the man in conversation, which was successful in delaying any attempts by the man to jump from the window. Locating the man’s apartment, Officer Helfrich quietly snuck up behind the man, grabbed him by the belt line and collar and dragged the man off the window ledge.  The man indicated that he was depressed and suicidal. The officers then transported the man to a hospital to receive medical treatment.

SE Precinct Commander Derek Foxworth wasn’t available at the event to comment on the awards in his precinct.

© 2008 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News Service

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