Juneau Police Department officers were honored for their-life saving efforts, service and courage during an award ceremony at the police station Monday afternoon.
Opening remarks were provided by Chief Ed Mercer, who then introduced state Sen. Jesse Kiehl to present a legislative memoriam honoring late JPD Chief Pat Wellington, who passed away in May 2021.
Wellington served as the JPD chief from 1963 until 1970, as well as serving as commissioner of the state Department of Public Safety and Colonel with the Alaska State Troopers. During Kiehl’s speech he said that sometimes choosing which “remarkable Alaskan” to honor can be challenging, but in the case of Wellington, it wasn’t hard at all.
“He served with great distinction,” Kiehl said. “He made a real difference in public safety in the capital city.”
Wellington’s niece Karen Bonnett Petersen was present to accept the award on the behalf of Wellington’s family. While accepting the award, Petersen told the crowd that while Wellington’s kids were unable to make the trip, they asked her to pass along the message that Juneau was Wellington’s favorite place to be. Additionally, Petersen said she had many fond memories of her uncle and shared a humorous story from her childhood.
“When I was in school at Auke Bay and I got bullied a little bit, I would tell the kids if they bothered me, my uncle’s the chief of police and he’ll throw them in jail,” Petersen said.
Following Wellington’s recognition, the next award presented was the Medal of Bravery, which was awarded to Officer Patrick Vaughan. On March 2, 2019, while off duty, Officer Ron Shriver contacted Vaughan to inform him of a male suspect with an arrest warrant at Fred Meyer.
When approaching the suspect to give verbal instructions for his arrest, the man tried to escape by putting his vehicle in reverse, which resulted in Vaughan getting caught between the car and the doorframe, according to Deputy Chief David Campbell, who presented the awards. Vaughan was subsequently run over by the suspect’s car who then crashed the vehicle. Despite being injured, Vaughan, along with Shriver, continued to pursue the suspect until he was finally detained.
Shriver was awarded the Outstanding Police Service Medal for his involvement in the same incident. Campbell said while presenting the award that Shriver’s actions in assisting in identifying the suspect and providing backup were examples of “outstanding police service.”
“I think it’s important for the morale and welfare of the other officers to be acknowledged for their service, their sacrifice and I’m just really thankful to work for the City and Borough of Juneau,” Shriver said.
Pre-Trial Probation Officer Deanna Komar was awarded the Citizen’s Award for Lifesaving for her involvement with a person in distress who had indicated they were trying to take their own life. On March 22, 2022, Komar, along with Officer Terry Allen, began walking through the woods behind Gruening Park until the person could be located, at which point Komar and Allen cared for the nearly hypothermic person until rescue units could arrive. Allen also received the Lifesaving Medal for his involvement in the same incident.
The Lifesaving Medal was also awarded to Shriver, along with fellow JPD Officers Jonah Hennings-Booth, Austin Thomas, Chris Herrick and Hannah Malone who received the award twice for her actions in providing CPR and lifesaving assistance in two separate incidents. In addition to receiving the Lifesaving Medal, Herrick also received a Basic Alaska Police Standards Council Certificate.
Mercer was also awarded the Lifesaving Medal, which was presented to him by Deputy City Manager Robert Barr. On Oct. 7, 2022, while off duty in his boat on Favorite Bay, Mercer came to the aid of a stranded ship that had run aground on Favorite Reef and had been stuck overnight. Mercer was able to safely take all three passengers back to the harbor where they could be further cared for by the Coast Guard.
Mercer said the honor was an unexpected surprise and “nice gesture” for what he and JPD officers do everyday. Additionally, Mercer said that while, as officers, they’re never performing their duties to be recognized, it’s always appreciated when it happens.
“That was just one thing that I was involved in but my staff’s involved in that every single day and they go out there every single day and do those types of things, so it’s just great that we’re able to come back here and recognize people for that and it’s an honor to receive this award myself.”
The ceremony closed by recognizing several individuals with the Certificate of Appreciation for their years of service to the City and Borough of Juneau.
Officer Mattie Shriver and Dispatcher Alyssa Storbeck were recognized for five years of service; Record Technician Brianna Youll, Officer Steve Scherrer and Civilian Investigator Joey Fox were recognized for 10 Years of Service; IT supervisor Eric Meyer, Sgt. Matt Dubois and Officer John Cryderman were recognized for 15 years of service; Lt. Krag Campbell, Civilian Investigator Jennifer Adams, Detective Kathy Underwood and Lead Dispatcher Celeste Lopez were recognized for 20 years of service and Lead Community Services Officer Bob Dilley along with Officer Kevin Fermin were both recognized for 25 years of service.
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.