Police honor local citizen ‘heroes’ and officers

Read their commendations, and see these honorable folks be awarded …

Preparing to award both civilians and police staff are Portland Police Bureau Public Information officer Sgt. Pete Simpson, Mayor Hales’ Chief of Staff Josh Alpert, PPB Chief Lawrence P. O’Dea III, and Assistant Chiefs Mike Crebs, Kevin Modica and Bob Day.

Story and photos by David F. Ashton

Officials of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) gathered to honor citizens they called “local heroes”, as well as officers and units, when they gathered on the afternoon of November 5 at City Bible Church, on Rocky Butte in outer East Portland.

PPB Chief Lawrence P. O’Dea III said they’d be awarding individuals, as well as Police Bureau personnel and units, during the ceremonies.

“Today you’ll hear about tremendous acts of heroism, including those of community members and Police Bureau members, saving people lives,” said PPB Chief Lawrence P. O’Dea III, as he began the program. “And you’re going to hear about acts of compassion and kindness – often, to strangers.”

In this article, we’re presenting the honorees who serve in outer East Portland.

Master of Ceremonies was PPB Public Information officer Sgt. Pete Simpson, who told why these awards were being presented, while the recipients made their way to the stage. The text of his remarks is shown below.


Ronald Dickson

Ronald Dickson listens, as his commendation is being read.

On July 4th 2015, Officer Susan Billard was attempting to place a suspect in custody who was wanted by Beaverton Police for multiple felonies. The suspect had swallowed a potentially life-threatening amount of controlled substances before he fled on foot through the parking lot of Mall 205.

Mr. Ronald Dickson witnessed the officer’s actions and observed her attempting to capture the suspect. The suspect evaded capture at the north end of the parking lot, and continued to run in a different direction. Mr. Dickson gave chase as the officer pulled her patrol vehicle in front of the suspect and cut off his path. Mr. Dickson caught the suspect and held him while Officer Billard placed him in handcuffs.

Mr. Ronald Dickson, your selfless acts came at a critical moment in the pursuit of a dangerous suspect, and your intervention led to his successful apprehension. You are hereby awarded the Portland Police Bureau’s CERTIFICATE OF APPRECIATION.

Officer Joseph Young and Officer Robert Brown

NRT Officers Joseph Young and Robert Brown are honored for their work in outer East Portland.

As Neighborhood Response Team officers assigned to East Precinct, Officers Robert Brown and Joseph Young have gained a significant level of knowledge and skills that contribute greatly to the team and surrounding community.

As senior members of the team, they have contributed to the development of effective policies on issues that are socially complicated, issues which also represent significant liability to the Bureau.

For example, Officers Young and Brown assisted in the development of a strategy for handling distressed property. The issue of distressed property is easily the most common and relentless problem brought to police by neighbors within the East Precinct community. With their input and assistance, their policy has become the “best practice” for East Precinct and beyond.

Officers Brown and Young, with the assistance of the Strategic Services Division, conducted a computer statistical study to evaluate the effectiveness of the policy, which demonstrated a reduction in Part 1 and 2 crimes within five blocks of the distressed property. This strategy has effectively reduced crime in the neighborhoods, as well as the number of calls for service.

Officers Brown and Young also worked to re-develop a Trespass Agreement program, which was the subject of a lawsuit. These officers, with the help of their sergeant, rewrote a comprehensive policy that was accepted by the City Attorney and the Tort Review Committee. Officers Brown and Young designed new signage, documents, and enlistment forms, and provided significant input with regard to “officer actions”, as related to the execution of the Trespass Agreements.

Officers Brown and Young, your contributions to develop new policies was significant, and will benefit many officers and community members for years to come. You are hereby awarded the Portland Police COMMENDATION MEDAL.

Officers Thomas Pennington, Lion Pavon, and Alfonso Valadez

For their response during the shooting incident outside the East Precinct building are Officers Thomas Pennington, Lion Pavon, and (not present) Alfonso Valadez.

>> Read “Midnight shots outside
East Precinct called ‘gang related’”: CLICK HERE.

Just before midnight on March 14th, 2015, officers at East Precinct were alerted to a large crowd of juveniles who began pounding on the walls and windows of the precinct.

Officers Tom Pennington and Alfonso Valadez assessed the crowd and began to advise dispatch of the circumstances. Suddenly, one of the juveniles began shooting into the crowd. The victim ran toward the precinct and the officers let him in, providing him safety from the shooter.

Meanwhile, Officer Pavon was north of the precinct when the shooting occurred. All three officers drew their firearms, but all recognized the rapidly changing backdrop with juveniles running all around them and they chose not to fire at the armed suspect who was attempting to escape via a breezeway north of the precinct. Officer Pennington provided radio updates as all of the officers pursued the suspect on foot through the breezeway. All three lost sight of the suspect for a moment as he ran into the adjacent business lot.

Officer Matt Bigoni was in the process of logging off for the night and was in the garage of the precinct when he, too, heard the shots. Ofc. Bigoni drove against the flow of traffic on Southeast Washington in an effort to cut off the suspect’s avenue of escape. He saw the suspect moving through the parking lot and challenged him at gunpoint. The suspect followed these commands, and officers took him into custody.

Officers Pennington, Valadez, and Pavon were presented with a chaotic scene in which an individual was firing into a crowd of young people with the intent to murder at least one. All three officers used excellent tactics during the entire incident. Officers Pennington, Valadez, and Pavon, you are hereby awarded the Portland Police COMMENDATION MEDAL.

Officers James DeFrain, Timothy Hoerauf and Neil Parker

For their actions at Bill’s Steak House in Parkrose, in which Officers James DeFrain, Timothy Hoerauf, and Neil Parker, scuffled with gang affiliates, these three are honored.

In the early morning hours of June 20th, 2015, Officer James DeFrain received a phone call from Officer Neil Parker regarding the gathering of gang associates at Bill’s Steak House, located at on 102nd and Sandy Boulevard.

Officer DeFrain was traveling on Northeast Sandy Boulevard when he saw multiple males sprinting across the street without regard for traffic. Officer DeFrain believed a shooting might have just occurred inside of the bar. As Officer DeFrain turned the corner, he observed three men getting into a vehicle with no license plates. He also saw a fourth male run behind parked cars adjacent to the vehicle with the men inside. The male attempted to hide behind a vehicle when Officer DeFrain yelled to him.

Officer DeFrain had to divide his attention between the male who hid behind the vehicle and the males inside the car. While he watched both areas, Officer DeFrain shined his flashlight inside the dark colored car and immediately recognized the front seat passenger in the vehicle as a documented Hoover gang member who had past convictions to include a drive-by shooting and assault.

Officer DeFrain radioed for additional units. Officers arrived and Officer Timothy Hoerauf and Officer DeFrain began to slowly clear the vehicle. Officer Parker shined his light inside the vehicle and saw a silver gun under the driver’s seat. The officers eventually found six .357 cartridges in one of the subject’s pockets, two firearms, gloves, and a “balaclava” style mask.

Officers interviewed the subjects involved and went to the restaurant and spoke to an individual who told him the males did not enter the bar, but that he saw a male wearing a “hoodie” pulled over his head looking in the bar’s window. Surveillance video showed several men looking in the windows, as if looking for rival gang members.

DNA retrieved from the cartridges led to a federal indictment of the subject who had possession of them. Shortly after, all three subjects pled guilty to firearms-related charges in state court.

Officers James DeFrain, Timothy Hoerauf, and Neil Parker, you are commended for using good tactics and knowledge during a high-stress interaction with armed subjects. Because of your actions, you most certainly stopped a gang-related shooting, and the potential for loss of life or serious injury to those involved, and to innocent community members. You are hereby awarded the Portland Police COMMENDATION MEDAL.

Officers John Edwards and Jason Lemons

For their work as Neighborhood Response Team officers, John Edwards and Jason Lemons are presented PPB Commendation Medals.

Officers John Edwards and Jason Lemons are members of the Neighborhood Response Team at East Precinct, where they are often faced with complex problems, many of which have festered for several years, causing community members extreme frustration and stress.

Officers Edwards and Lemons worked to solve two very complex cases in East Precinct. The first situation involved an owner-occupied drug house that had been an ongoing problem in the neighborhood for several years.

Officers tried in the past to resolve this issue, but the complexities seemed insurmountable. Neighbors became frustrated at what they believed was a hopeless scenario and the apparent powerlessness of government.

Officers Lemons and Edwards applied strategies that ultimately led to the owner being arrested on serious felony charges, and the problem was terminated with his agreeing to assign the Portland Police Bureau as contracted persons in charge, to eliminate the ongoing occupancy by criminals who committed thefts and dealt drugs in the neighborhood

In the second incident, the case involved an abandoned house that was illegally occupied by several people, who used the house as a base for their criminal activity.

The neighbors had been trying for six years to find a process that would rid their neighborhood of the occupants of the house. Officers Edwards and Lemons responded and worked to resolve the issue. A letter written and signed by 21 neighbors thanked the officers for “giving them back their neighborhood”.

Officers Edwards and Lemons, resolving these kinds of chronic livability cases can be a long and tedious process. You worked with neighbors and resources to solve these situations once and for all, having a long-lasting and dramatic impact on the neighbors involved. You are hereby awarded the Portland Police COMMENDATION MEDAL.

The Mark Zylawy Distinguished Service Medal
Officer Mike Gallagher

Being commended by PPB Chiefs, for being selected the recipient of the 2015 The Mark Zylawy Distinguished Service Medal, is East Precinct Officer Mike Gallagher.

Officer Mike Gallagher has been a Police Officer for more than 20 years, and has made significant positive impacts on both the community and his peers.

For the past four years, Officer Gallagher has been a pivotal member of the East Precinct Prostitution Coordination Team, and has seen the devastation caused when an individual is forced into a life of sexual exploitation. Many times these victims suffer from mental illness; drug and alcohol addiction; have a history of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse; and are incapable of escaping from this vicious cycle.

Officer Gallagher was instrumental in developing a multifaceted approach toward combating the problem of Human Trafficking. He established relationships with victim-advocate groups and the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office.

The formation of the Prostitution Coordination Team created a partnership between the Portland Police, the District Attorney’s Office, neighborhood representatives, and New Options for Women, to systemically confront prostitution and address the aftermath caused by it. This program has been highly effective, and today serves as a model for other communities, both locally and nationally.

Officer Gallagher has demonstrated excellence in this partnership with social service agencies as evidenced by the successful bridge to treatment for hundreds of women, changing their lives for the better.

Women who attend the Lifeworks treatment program often reference Officer Gallagher, saying that he was kind, compassionate, and they gave treatment a chance because they trusted him. In addition, Officer Gallagher’s efforts to mobilize community partners have completely changed the way Lifeworks is able to provide services to this very vulnerable population.

In addition, for the past ten years, Officer Gallagher has been very involved in the Portland Police Bureau’s Cadet Program, which offers an introduction to law enforcement for young men and women. The Program provides mentorship, classroom instruction, and hands-on training. With his involvement in the Cadet Program, Officer Gallagher has taught and instilled the values of the Portland Police Bureau into the Cadets, and provided them with skills which will assist them in their future endeavors in law enforcement.

Officer Gallagher is also a member of the Employee Assistance Program, where he provides support, guidance, encouragement, and resources to Police Bureau employees who are dealing with personal and/or professional challenges. Officer Gallagher often carries the EAP on-call page, and is the first responder to a Bureau member in times of crisis. For several years, Officer Gallagher has selflessly dedicated his time to serving his co-workers, and is directly responsible for helping employees deal with, and overcome, life’s critical challenges.

Officer Gallagher, your commitment to the service of others has positively impacted the lives of countless people, and epitomizes the very best values of this organization. You are hereby awarded the MARK ZYLAWY DISTINGUISHED SERVICE MEDAL.

“Of all the awards one might be presented, the Mark Zylawy Distinguished Service Medal means the most to me,” Gallagher reflected to East Portland News, after the ceremony’s conclusion.

“It’s because of what it means, in the background behind it,” Gallagher added. “Zylawy was an officer who was highly respected by his both his peers and by the North Precinct community.”

East Portland News extends our thanks for the good work of the Portland Police Bureau personnel every day, night, weekend, and holiday.

© 2015 David F. Ashton ~ East Portland News

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