East Portland cops recognized in public ceremony

Find out who was commended for saving lives, ridding the streets of hard drugs, and helping solve chronic neighborhood problems – both members of the Portland Police Bureau, and citizens as well. There are a lot of great stories we’re sharing here …

The Portland Police Bureau Color guard marks the beginning of the 2011 Portland Police Bureau Awards ceremony at David Douglas High School.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton
David Douglas High School’s lot was filled, and street parking was scarce, on the afternoon of January 20 – as the 2011 Portland Police Bureau Awards ceremony was set to begin in the Howard Horner Performing Arts Center Theater.

Acting as the afternoon’s master of ceremonies and announcer, Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Peter Simpson welcomes awardees and guests.

Guests and those being honored were welcomed with the sound of a Portland Police Bureau Highland Guard bagpiper.

At 3:30 p.m., Portland Police Bureau Public Information Officer Sgt. Peter Simpson – serving as master of ceremonies for the program – began the semiannual event by introducing PPB Chief Michael Reese to the podium.

Portland Police Bureau Chief Michael Reese says the Bureau is called upon to do more – but, with fewer resources.

Chief Reese thanked guests for attending. Giving a brief “state of the Bureau” address, he talked about challenges faced today by Portland’s peacekeepers.

“We have fewer police today than we did 10 years ago,” Reese said. “And yet, our city is one of the safest in the United States. The demands upon the police have changed dramatically, as we deal with more and more social disorder. It is a tribute to our efforts, and our partnership with the community, that we respond to these new challenges with innovative ideas to reduce addiction, provide housing for the homeless, and compassionate care to people with mental illness.”

Reese concluded his remarks, saying, “Individually, and as an organization, we are working to move resources to address emerging situations. And, every day, I hear about the exemplary work of our people and the Bureau. Today, we will all hear about those efforts.”

> Rather than paraphrase the commendations, we present the full text of each award, as spoken by Sgt. Simpson at the ceremony.

Officer Jeffrey Pontius and Officer Stephen Gandy

As Chief Reese looks on, Officers Jeffrey Pontius and Stephen Gandy listen as their commendation is read.

Officers Stephen Gandy and Jeffrey Pontius were assigned to the East Precinct Neighborhood Response Team from May 2009 to July 2010 and to the East Precinct Crime Reduction Unit in July 2010.

Both officers brought their unique experiences and perspectives on collaborated cases that resulted in large drug seizures, arrests for ‘ex-convict in possession of a firearm’, attempted murder, robbery, kidnapping, and other significant felony arrests.

Since May 2009 they have successfully shut down over 100 drug houses, have seized 5.9 pounds of Methamphetamine, 2.9 pounds of Heroin and seized over $94,000.00 in cash, as well as recovering 37 guns.

In recognition of your hard work and dedication, contributing greatly to the safety of the community you serve, Officer Stephen Gandy and Officer Jeffrey Pontius, you are hereby awarded the Commendation Medal.

Officer Patrick Nagy and Officer Joe Young

Accepting their PPB Commendation Medals, Officers Patrick Nagy and Joe Young stand with Chief Reese.

Over the course of the last few years East precinct has experienced several youth-related incidents around SE 146th and Stark. The hub of this activity was in and around a particular business establishment catering to teenagers which resulted in numerous citizen complaints.

Officers Patrick Nagy and Joe Young worked with district officers, HEAT, the Bureau of Developmental Services, the Portland Fire Bureau and the City Attorney’s office in efforts to abate the problems associated with this business.

Officers Nagy and Young began a thorough investigation of all activities at the business, and started a comprehensive record-keeping system to prepare a case for designating the property as a chronic nuisance.

With over a thousand pages of documentation, the case was brought to the City Attorney’s office, and a chronic nuisance [complaint] was filed. The property owner immediately terminated the lease, and the associated problems were alleviated.  Calls for service are now down 73%, as a result of the officers’ hard work

In recognition of your dedication to reduce crime in the community you serve and your diligent work on this chronic neighborhood problem, Officer Patrick Nagy and

Officer Joe Young, you are hereby awarded the Commendation Medal.

Carol Irwin

BOEC’s Carol Irwin stands with Chief Reese and the Bureau’s “top brass”.

On August 26, 2008, Ms. Carol Irwin was working a call-taking station at Bureau of Emergency Communication (BOEC, the 9-1-1 center in Lents), when she took a call from a cell phone. There were audible voices but no reply to Ms. Irwin. By listening to the voices it was immediately clear that there was some type of argument or fight. She could hear a female screaming and crying and a male voice shouting profanities.

Ms. Irwin set up the call as an “Incomplete Call”. She then used PPDS to find an exact address and possible name of the person who owned the cell phone.

Officers arrived at the address and contacted the victim, who had been assaulted by her boyfriend.

The ability for Police to obtain the exact address in a timely fashion allowed them to arrive at a critical juncture in the assault. If not for the professional expertise of Ms. Irwin, the injuries sustained by the victim might have been significantly worse.

In keeping with the highest professional standards of the Portland Police Bureau, the Bureau of Emergency Communication, and your outstanding work on this case,

Carol Irwin, you are hereby awarded the Commendation Medal.

Officer Robby Truong

Officer Robby Truong listen as his commendation is read.

On October 22, 2010 Officer Robby Truong responded to a suspicious call at the 122nd Plaid Pantry.  Upon arrival Officer Truong was met by a witness who pointed out a female sitting by a dumpster.

As Officer Truong approached the victim he observed her bleeding heavily from two deep cuts running from her wrist to the fold of her arm, approximately 6 inches long. Officer Truong requested “code 3 medical” and used napkins supplied by the witness to apply direct pressure to the wounds.

The victim indicated that she had cut herself in an attempt to commit suicide, but no longer wanted to die. With help from a witness, Officer Truong attempted to locate the First Aid Kit in his car.  Unable to find it, Officer Truong used crime scene tape to wrap the wounds. The victim’s wounds continued to bleed and she was going into shock.  Acting quickly Officer Truong cut a piece of cloth from the victim’s sweater and applied it directly on the wounds; this seemed to slow the bleeding.

Medical Personnel arrived and transported the victim to the hospital.

It was a very busy time for Officer Truong last fall, as he was involved in another life- saving action in November.

Officer Robby Truong, Mr. Andrew Burke, and Mr. Michael Falagrong

Officer Robby Truong is congratulated by Chief Reese, as are citizens Andrew Burke and Michael Falagrong.

On November 3, 2010, Portland Police Officer Robby Truong responded to a 9-1-1 call regarding a “man floundering in the water” in Johnson Creek. Upon arrival, Officer Truong found Mr. Andrew Burke and Mr. Michael Falagrong performing CPR on the victim.

Officer Truong went down the embankment which was slippery and very steep, ending up partially in the rapidly-moving water. Officer Truong took over administering CPR until Medical Personnel arrived. Once EMS was on-scene, Officer Truong assisted in getting the victim back up the embankment and into the ambulance.

Medical Personnel were able to get a heart rhythm back and transported the victim to the hospital.

Officer Robby Truong, in recognition of your quick actions, using very limited resources to save a woman’s life, and [in recognition of] your brave, selfless actions in November to save the life of another citizen, you are hereby awarded the Life Saving Medal.

In recognition of your courage and compassion, Andrew Burke, and Michael Falagrong, you are hereby awarded the Life Saving Medal.

Officer James Habkirk, Officer Justin Clary, and Mr. Timothy McBride

Chief Reese hears why Officers James Habkirk and Justin Clary, and a civilian, Timothy McBride, are being presented with the PPB Life Saving Medal.

On July 7, 2010, officers were dispatched to a call regarding a woman hanging off the side of an apartment building. Mr. Timothy McBride, a tenant in the building, knew the woman to be a resident, and was made aware that she was on the roof.  Mr. McBride went to check on her, when he got to the roof she was lying on the ledge. She told Mr. McBride she wanted to commit suicide by jumping. As she heard sirens approaching, she swung her legs over the edge and started to fall. Mr. McBride grabbed one of her arms and held onto her.

Upon arrival, Officers James Habkirk and Justin Clary observed a female hanging off the roof of an apartment building. Both officers immediately accessed the roof of the 17- story building, where they saw Mr. McBride holding onto the woman’s arm as she dangled on the side of the building. Officer Habkirk and Clary quickly jumped to the ledge to assist. The lack of physical barriers exposed the rescuers to the possibility of falling off the building.  The situation was both difficult and dangerous, as the officers tried to subdue the frantic and uncooperative suicidal woman. The officers were able to pull her up to the safety of the roof.

Officer James Habkirk, Officer Justin Clary, and Mr. Timothy McBride – in recognition of your quick actions, courage, and calmness in a dangerous situation, you are hereby awarded the Life Saving Medal.

Officer Michael Filbert and Officer Brent Maxey

Officers Michael Filbert and Brent Maxey are commended for safely subduing a cleaver-wielding, troubled woman.

On October 10, 2010, Officers Michael Filbert and Brent Maxey responded to a radio call for a welfare check of a female walking outside, unclothed and muttering odd statements.

Officers arrived on-scene and made contact with the woman through her closed front door. She spoke briefly with Officer Filbert then suddenly opened the door screaming at the officers, with large meat cleaver raised above her head. Officer Filbert reacted quickly preventing the cleaver from striking him. The cleaver came down and wedged between his police radio and utility belt. Officer Filbert backed away as the woman continued to swing the cleaver towards both officers.

Both officers drew their firearms, giving commands for the woman to drop the knife. The woman stood for a moment and then dropped to the ground complaining of chest pains, officers called medical personnel, who transported the woman to the hospital.

Officers Filbert and Maxey were faced with an immediate threat of serious physical injury by a person experiencing a mental health crisis.

In demonstrating a level of restraint, professionalism, and compassion, in putting the needs of a person in mental health crisis over your own safety, Officer Michael Filbert and Officer Brent Maxey, you are hereby awarded the Police Medal.

Officer Stephen Gandy

Officer Stephen Gandy receives the Police Star for being injured in the line of duty.

On April 12, 2010, East NRT officers were investigating a drug house complaint. As part of this complaint they were conducting surveillance on the house and making stops on vehicles after they were out of the area. This resulted in gaining “probable cause” for a known drug dealer at the location. As the main suspect was sitting in a vehicle outside the residence, officers approached the house. Upon seeing the officers, the main subject got out of the vehicle and started jogging toward the front door. Officer Stephen Gandy ran after the subject to keep him from getting inside the house. The subject broke free as a large pit bull came out the open front door and lunged at Officer Gandy biting him in the upper thigh, ripping through his uniform pants and deeply puncturing his skin.

Even though Officer Gandy was injured he continued to help with containment until enough officers arrived to help with the investigation; at which time Officer Gandy went to a nearby hospital for treatment.

A few days later Officer Gandy’s bite wound became infected deep inside the tissue, and Officer Gandy was admitted to the hospital with a life-threatening infection. As his condition worsened he was transferred to a second hospital and placed in ICU. After several days of intense treatment, Officer Gandy was stabilized and won his battle with the infection.

In recognition of your steadfast commitment to your duty despite your physical injury, Officer Stephen Gandy, you are hereby awarded the Police Star.

Hundreds of people were on hand to congratulate honorees at the Portland Police Bureau Awards Ceremony.

After the ceremony, we stopped NRT Officer Joe Young – we often see him at business association and neighborhood meetings – and asked how he felt about the commendation. “It’s nice to get award and yet recognized by your peers and their commanders and your staff.”

But, Young was quick to add, “I share this award with our officers. With us, it’s always a team effort.”

PPB East Precinct Commander William Walker also stopped to say, “It’s terrific to see that good work that’s being done here in East Precinct be recognized.”

Noting that they’re providing public safety with thinner ranks than in the past – about 150 officers (and 21 sergeants, three lieutenants and a captain) Walker said, “They all deserve an award, in my opinion. Every day, they go out and they do a terrific job.”

Some remain out of the spotlight, Walker pointed out. “For example, Officer Wendy Hamm deserves an award. She responded to a suicidal subject, made contact with that person, and was able to talk that person down from committing suicide – just a terrific job on her part. We’re out, doing this, every day.”

© 2011 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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