Citizens and Juneau Police Department officers were honored for their lifesaving efforts, service and courage in a ceremony at the police station Tuesday afternoon.
“Our mission to make our city a place where people can live safely and without fear,” JPD Chief Ed Mercer said. “This is exactly what the police department and its civilian employees are trying to do.”
Heather Jim, Christopher Hardy and Nathan Ta’ala were not present, but were awarded the Citizen’s Award for Lifesaving. In 2018, they saw a man fall in the harbor, striking his head on the way in, and jumped in after him to keep him from dying until help arrived.
“They were in the right place at the right time and ended up saving this individual’s life,” Deputy Chief David Campbell said.
Officer Eric Hoffman was given a letter of recognition for his actions in the same incident, tossing a flotation device to the civilians in the water until Capital City Fire/Rescue personnel were able to pull them all out.
Officer CJ Warnaca and Sgt. Shawn Phelps were both awarded the Outstanding Police Service Award for separate actions. Warnaca was awarded for her actions negotiating with an armed, suicidal man near Echo Cove without dedicated support. The man refused to communicate for more than six hours before finally engaging with Warnaca and eventually surrendering peacefully.
“You were able to negotiate an extremely complex situation without support,” Campbell said.
Phelps received the OPSA for his actions early one morning on the way to work where he saw an officer in a tense situation confronting an armed burglar who refused to fully surrender. Phelps’ presence, unarmed and unequipped, nevertheless gave the officer the backup to resolve the situation peacefully, without injury to anyone.
“The situation could have deteriorated very badly,” Campbell said.
Officer Hannah Malone could also not be present, but was awarded the Lifesaving Medal for her actions at Glacier View Elementary School as she rendered CPR and lifesaving assistance to a man suffering from a heart attack. The man survived thanks to Malone and others’ actions.
Retired Officer Jason Van Sickle was awarded the Medal of Bravery for his actions corralling a reckless and erratic driver and preventing them from doing harm to others.
“He drove between two vehicles, stopping further damage by the erratic driver, and ultimately took him into custody,” Campbell said.
Mercer also took time to commend the other members of his command staff, including Lt. Krag Campbell, Lt. Scott Erickson, and Lt. Jeremy Weske, all of whom had attended specialized command courses at different times in the recent past. Campbell and Weske had both attended a 10-week course at the FBI national academy in Quantico, Virginia, and Erickson had attended a similar course in Plano, Texas.
“I’ve been trying to develop my staff and train them for bigger things,” Mercer said. “We made some great accomplishments as far as sending the command team off to these schools.”