VBPD Awards Ceremony

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

On Friday, May 19, 2017, the Virginia Beach Police Department hosted it's biannual awards ceremony.  On this special day, we honored forty-four department members and ten citizens for their un-selfish acts of courage and outstanding community involvement.

 

THANK YOU for your dedication to our community and our department.  We also thank your family, for their support in what you do every day.  

 

Christian & Daniel Torri, Victoria & Gabrielle Karolenko, Brad Jones

Citizen Life Saving

​On May 29, 2016 at approximately 1:07 p.m., Officers responded to the 3000 block of Sandfiddler Road for a report of a drowning.  Officers determined that the female who was in the water, had been struck by a wave that knocked her over and pulled her underwater.  This was witnessed by Daniel Torri.  Daniel noticed that the woman did not re-surface.  He started moving toward her, yelling to her.  Christian saw this and ran in to help Daniel keep the woman's head above water, and to attempt to pull her to shore.  Brad Jones noticed the situation and assisted Christian and Daniel in pulling the victim from the water, as well as calling 911.  As first responders were being summoned, Victoria and Gabrielle Karolenko began CPR.  At the time, the victim was not conscious or breathing.  Officers arrived on scene within 3 minutes of the initial call, shortly followed by EMS and Fire.  Within a short time, the victim became conscious.  She was transported to the hospital for further treatment.

All first responders on scene concur that the actions taken by Daniel Torri, Christian Torri, Brad Jones, Victoria Karolenko and Gabrielle Karolenko, saved the victim's life.

It is with sincere gratitude that the Virginia Beach Police Department acknowledges the efforts of these five individuals by presenting them with the Citizen Life Saving Award

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Wayne McCoy

Meritorious Public Service Award

​Wayne started volunteering as a Tactical Flight Officer with our helicopter unit on October 31, 2001.  Since that date, he has given over 4,000 hours of his personal time to the unit.

A volunteer Tactical Flight Officer is an essential part of the Virginia Beach Police Department's Helicopter Unit's mission.  They are trained in police tactics and in communicating on the police radio with the dispatchers and ground units during calls.  They also received extensive training on the operation of the FLIR, Camera, Search Light and Night Vision Goggles, all used to assist in the apprehension of fleeing criminals and to help locate lost subjects.  Tactical Flight Officers also assist with Virginia Beach's Emergency Medical Services Medevac Operations, pre and post flight inspections and fueling of the helicopter.

Wayne is part of a well-trained aircrew that has to stay proficient with their tactics and technology to significantly enhance the safety, efficiency and effectiveness of the officers on the ground and the citizens of Virginia Beach.

While running his own business and giving countless volunteer hours to the Special Olympics, Wayne has remained one of the most active volunteers in our organization.  He has sacrificed nights, weekends, and holidays away from his family to help keep the citizens and police officers of Virginia Beach safe.

For his dedication to our community and the Virginia Beach Police Department, Wayne is awarded the department's Meritorious Public Service Award.

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​Steve Prescott

Meritorious Public Service Award

Steve Prescott has served our agency as a volunteer in the Crime Analysts office since 2003.  For more than a decade, he has worked to produce a variety of analytical products that help officers target their patrol efforts, assist investigators find offenders and allow supervisors to better allocate resources.  We are genuinely blessed for his selfless service.  Every workday, Steve arrives on time always with a smile for his coworkers.

Some of the day-to-day activities Steve takes on are editing the 1st Precinct Daily bulletin with the pertinent information to disseminate to patrol and investigators; he enters the traffic enforcement information into weekly reports, and updates the Burglary Matrix for the entire city.

Steve is very observant, and on occasion has made us aware of past cases or suspects that may be relevant to current cases the detectives are working.  In 2016 alone, Steve provided approximately 800 hours of service to the citizens of Va Beach and expected nothing in return.  What is even more exceptional is the contribution he made this year to our Command's efforts to boost morale.  Steve, being a long time donor and volunteer at the Military Aviation museum, found a way for the Museum to host a 1st Precinct and Detective Bureau Family event in August of 2016.

Over the past 13 years, he has provided his service and has made himself known as a resource to all he encounters.

For his dedication to our community and the Virginia Beach Police Department, Steve is awarded the department's Meritorious Public Service Award.

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Juliana Pontone

Volunteer of the Year Award

Juliana has had a significant and positive impact on the Virginia Beach Animal Care and Adoption Center.  Since her joining the Animal Care and Adoption Center volunteer team, Juliana has faithfully contributed approximately 4,500 lifetime hours of service.  In calendar year 2016 alone, she donated approximately 2,519 hours of service to the shelter and its animals.  Juliana has consistently approached her volunteerism with professionalism, enthusiasm, and with a positive team-oriented approach.  She has reached this level of volunteerism through her commitment to various projects related to the shelter, including but not limited to: providing in-home foster care to generally behaviorally or medically challenged canines, dog walking, serving on the Animal Control Unit Advisory Board, participating with on-site and off-site events and shelter marketing.

For her dedication to our community and the Virginia Beach Police Department, Juliana is recognized as the Department's Volunteer of the Year.

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Elaine Manzano

Civilian Employee of the Year Award

Elaine is currently a Precinct Desk Officer assigned to the 1st Precinct, having previously worked as a PDO at the 2nd Precinct.  Elaine has been employed with the department since 2010.

Elaine exemplifies the PRIDE core values of our department.  She is professional, courteous and respectful to her peers, supervisors and citizens whom she encounters on a daily basis.  She always has a smile on her face and remains calm and professional no matter what circumstances may arise.  She will go above and beyond her normal duties to assist anyone on the phone or in person.  She asks the appropriate questions and checks everything out in order to assist the citizen properly and according to protocol.

Elaine has volunteered her time for Project Lifesaver and for the Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Ceremony.

Elaine is always eager to help everyone and she does so in a manner that is greatly appreciated.  She has assisted on several occasions with citizens, civilian applicants, and volunteers looking for help in the Headquarters Administration area.  As a PDO she has the best attitude even though it is difficult dealing with people that may be in distress or angry.  She is compassionate, fair, dedicated and committed.

For her dedication to our community and the Virginia Beach Police Department, Elaine is recognized as the Department's Civilian Employee of the Year.

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MPO S. Curran

Special Commendation

In December 2014, MPO Curran transferred from Special Operations/SWAT to Professional Development & Training – as the full time Defensive Tactics Instructor at Creeds.  Due to his extensive knowledge, skills and abilities, MPO Curran was asked if he would assist Special Operations as a collateral assignment to be an additional SWAT Team member for callouts and other high-risk operations.  MPO Curran willingly agreed.

To maintain operational readiness, SWAT Officers who transfer from Special Operations, at times retain their assigned vehicle and gear for 15-30 days in order to accommodate the transfer training and assimilation of replacement personnel.  In this case, two new SWAT Sergeants were transferred to the SWAT Team in January 2015.  Neither of these two new supervisors had any previous SWAT experience.  In order to assist with the transition of the new supervisors, MPO Curran was asked to assist beyond the anticipated 30-day period of this transition.  During this same time period, the SWAT Team lost three officers to other assignments on the department and another officer went out on injury leave, thus, leaving the team four officers short of full team staffing.  MPO Curran was asked to continue assisting the SWAT Team and still meet his primary obligations as a full-time instructor at PD&T.  Without hesitation, MPO Curran again agreed to assist the SWAT Team until his services were no longer needed and the transition was complete.  During the next several months, MPO Curran continued to attend training at least once a month and spent several days assisting with SWAT school.

In September 2015, four SWAT team members were involved in an officer involved shooting of a homicide suspect.  Shortly after, the remaining team members were sent to conduct a takedown on a second suspect.  During the planning of the operation, it was determined the SWAT Team needed one more officer.  MPO Curran was asked to assist with this mission.  Again, without hesitation, MPO Curran agreed to help out, even though he knew he was still to report to the oceanfront at 4 a.m. to work the Rock N Roll Half Marathon. 

Due to the aforementioned officer involved incident, and department policy, four SWAT Officers were placed on administrative duty.  MPO Curran obtained permission to continue to serve as an active SWAT member until those officers returned to full duty.  During this 15-month period, MPO Curran participated in 7 High-Risk Search Warrants, 6 vehicle takedowns and 2 barricaded gunman incidents.

For his actions that were substantially above normal requirements, MPO Curran is awarded the Department's Special Commendation.

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MPO W. Hannigan, MPO S. Cope, MPO D. Fogarty

Unit Citation Award

On Wednesday, January 6, 2016 at approximately 3:19 p.m., Emergency communications broadcast that a tractor-trailer had crashed through the guardrail of the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel.  A request was received for the Virginia Beach Police Department's Marine Patrol to respond to assist, as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel Police do not have a marine law enforcement component. 

The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel reported that an adult male was in the water with obvious signs of head injuries.  MPO's Hannigan, Cope and Fogarty heard this broadcast, prepared the police vessel, and were underway in less than 3 minutes.  They covered 12 miles in approximately 30 minutes in unfavorable sea and weather conditions.  The water temperature was in the 40s with strong winds and seas 4 to 4½ ft.

MPO Hannigan expertly maneuvered the police vessel into position while battling the conditions and the unique wave dynamics created by the two bridge spans.  Because of this, MPO's Cope and Fogarty were able to recover the victim from the water on their first attempt.  MPO's Cope and Fogarty then triaged the victim, who was suffering from a significant head injury and an open compound fracture to the arm.  MPO Hannigan was able to operate the vessel close enough to the Fire Boat to allow a transfer of the victim without causing further injury, or damage to the vessels despite the sea conditions.

It is without a doubt,  their keen observations, decisive planning, ability to work together as a team, and the dynamic actions taken by these officers, is what made this a successful operation.

For their dedication to our community and the Virginia Beach Police Department, MPO Hannigan, Cope and Fogarty are awarded the Department's Unit Citation.

 Hannigan.JPG

 

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Sergeant R. Cheatham, MPO C. Szmanski, MPO E. Kavanagh, MPO T. Lipsey, MPO J. Makin, MPO P. Vaughan, Officer C. Gauthier, Officer J. Crawford

Unit Citation Award

​The special dynamic group of officers assigned to the First Precinct's Community Policing Squad during the timeframe of April to December 2016 was very energetic and had a drive to succeed that is second to none.  It was their desire to be "THE" Community Policing Squad that all want to emulate.  The amount of work that was done by these officers would appear overwhelming if you were to look at the statistics that these six officers produced.  However, getting to know their work ethic and drive allowed their supervisor to realize, they were not overwhelmed at all.  During the eight months noted in the nomination, these officers were responsible for:

61 felony arrests, 142 misdemeanor arrests

13 guns (either stolen or otherwise illegal) were recovered

2 stolen autos - recovered

They completed 128 Establishment Reviews

12 Narcotic investigations were initiated– several which were acquired by Special Investigations

4 Section 8 Investigations

11 Search Warrants executed

551 summonses issued for various Criminal & Traffic Violations

6 Micro-Canvases were completed after critical incidents

They assisted in 9 DUI checkpoints with Special Operations

3 PTOs conducted 970 training hours

As Mobile Tactics Officers they assisted in Week 17, July 4th, Labor Day, and the Strawberry Festival weekend.

They were involved in multiple Community Outreach opportunities with Out of the Boxx Ministries in the Princess Anne Plaza Community

The officers have been seen walking with community leaders, participating in prayer circles, and playing basketball and football with kids at neighborhood carnivals.

In December, members collected funds out of pocket to provide a Christmas for two young children who would not have had such an opportunity otherwise.

Through their planned patrols and countless hours of surveillance, crime trends were developed and worked in order to stem the criminal activity associated in those areas and resulted in multiple arrests and identification of suspects.

The ideas these officers came up with to combat issues presented to them exemplify our problem-based learning philosophy and outside the box thought processes.

For their dedication to our community and the Virginia Beach Police Department, Sergeant Richard Cheatham, MPOs Christopher Szmanski, Edward Kavanagh, Tharnon Lipsey, Joshua Makin, Preston Vaughan, Officers Chad Gauthier and Jeffrey Crawford are awarded the Department's Unit Citation.

 Cheatham.JPG

 Not pictured - MPO Makin


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Officer J. Morrow

Life Saving Award

On August 26, 2016 at approximately 3:44 a.m., Officer Morrow responded to a cardiac arrest call on Swallow Drive.  Upon arrival, Morrow was directed to the bathroom of the residence where he located an unconscious, not responsive adult male who was not breathing.  Morrow noticed drug paraphernalia near the man indicating a drug overdose.  Morrow did detect a heartbeat and immediately administered Narcan, which successfully revived the victim.  The victim was able to walk outside under his own power and get onto the gurney for transport to the hospital.

For his efforts, Officer Jeffrey Morrow is awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.


 ​Officer Morrow was unable to attend - not photographed

 

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Officer J. Otranto, Officer W. Morrow, Officer E. Mabry

Life Saving Award

​On December 13, 2016, officers were dispatched to a call for a person that had been shot inside of an apartment.  The initial information received, was conflicting and it was unknown if there was a suspect at large.

Officers Mabry, Morrow and Otranto were the first officers on scene.  They encountered a man who was visibly nervous in the parking garage who stated that he was the one who called the police.  He directed the officers to the apartment where the injured person was.  The person was located in the living room amidst a large amount of blood.  He was holding a towel onto his leg and was in and out of consciousness.  Officer Otranto lifted the towel to assess the injury.  Blood spurt out, indicating it was an arterial bleed. 

Officer Otranto held pressure on the wound as Officers Morrow and Mabry applied a tourniquet to his leg.  The officers were able to stop the loss of blood and rescue personnel resumed care of the subject.  He was transported to the hospital and taken into surgery with life threatening injuries.

The on duty physician at the time advised that the tourniquet the officers applied in fact saved the man's life as he was suffering from a severed femoral artery and shattered femur.

The officer's accurate assessment of the injury and quick response to render first aid undeniably fostered the preservation of life.

For their efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officers Mabry, Morrow and Otranto are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

 Otranto Morrow Mabry.JPG

  

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Officer M. Shawkat, Officer B. Hoke

Life Saving Award

​On August 3, 2016, Virginia Beach Emergency Communications received a call for service at a Shell Gas station for a man who had collapsed and was not breathing.

Within two minutes of being dispatched, Officers Hoke and Shawkat arrived on scene and assessed the situation.

They located a male who was unconscious and not breathing, as well as a female who was slipping in and out of consciousness.

Officer Hoke began chest compressions on the male as Officer Shawkat retrieved the AED and the Narcan kit from his patrol vehicle.  Officer Shawkat gave the AED to Officer Hoke, and then turned his attention to the female.  Officer Shawkat administered Narcan to her, which had minimal but positive effect.  Officer Hoke attached the AED to the male and continued chest compressions as instructed by the AED.  Both officers continued to render aid to the individuals until Fire and Rescue personnel arrived on scene.

The quick assessment and actions taken by Officers Hoke and Shawkat provided the necessary treatment to overcome the negative and often fatal effects of a heroin overdose.

For their efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officers Hoke and Shawkat are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

Hoke.JPG

 

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Officer F. Silye, Officer M. Jensen

Life Saving Award

​On August 06, 2016, Officers were dispatched to a residence for a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the leg.

Officers Silye and Jensen were the first to arrive on scene and located the subject in the kitchen area amongst a large pool of blood on the floor.  The officers were told that the person had accidentally shot himself with a handgun.

The officers evaluated the injury, and recognized the substantial amount of blood loss that had already taken place.  Officers Silye and Jenson assisted each other in applying a tourniquet to the man's leg.

It was later determined that the man had actually shot himself with an AK-47 assault rifle, and not a handgun as was initially implied and there was most likely a delay in calling 911 for help.

Hospital staff advised our detectives that the man would have certainly died from loss of blood had it not been for Officers Silye and Jensen's lifesaving effort of applying the tourniquet.

For their efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officers Silye and Jenson are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

 Silye Jensen.JPG

 

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Officer C. Daniels, MPO M. Cade

Life Saving Award

On May 22, 2016 at approximately 4:45 pm, Officers Carlton Daniels and Matthew Cade responded to the WaWa located at 5701 Northampton Blvd for a report of a 6-month-old baby that was not breathing.  When the officers arrived, they located a family in their vehicle with the unconscious baby.  The baby's grandmother had attempted to perform CPR, but had not been successful.

Officer Daniels took the infant from the back seat of the vehicle and placed him face up on his right arm.  He began to start chest compressions, and check for signs of breathing.  He noticed the baby taking very low gasps of air.  Officer Daniels asked Officer Cade to perform a "mouth sweep" of the baby to see if there was an obstruction.

Officer Cade swept the baby's mouth with his finger, but did not see anything; however, after performing this technique the baby began to regain color and started to take normal breaths.  Then, to the delight of the family, the baby began to cry.

EMS arrived on scene after the baby regained consciousness, and transported the child to a hospital for further evaluation.

The Officers quick response, quick thinking and implementation of departmental training, during an extremely stressful and emotional event, saved the life of a 6 month old baby; which will never be forgotten by the family, bystanders or officers.

For their efforts, that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officers Daniel and Cade are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

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MPO J. Steffens

Life Saving Award

On March 25, 2016 at 2:02 pm, MPO Steffens responded to a residence for the report of an unconscious subject who was not breathing.  When MPO Steffens arrived, he found an adult male unresponsive and without a pulse.  MPO Steffens began chest compressions and enlisted the victim's significant other to provide artificial respirations.  A few minutes later EMS arrived on scene and relieved MPO Steffens in resuscitation attempts.  Ultimately, a conversion was obtained and the patient was successfully resuscitated. 

For his efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Master Police Officer Steffens is awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

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MPO B. Morgan

Life Saving Award

November 19, 2016 at approximately 7:42 a.m., Officer Morgan was dispatched to Eastern Shore Road for a report of a 77-year-old female in cardiac arrest.  In a mere 2 minutes, Officer Morgan was on scene, retrieved his AED and rushed in.  He located the patient and moved her from a chair, checking for breathing and pulse, Officer Morgan found neither.  Officer Morgan began a round of chest compressions before connecting his AED as Fire and Rescue were arriving on scene.  Resuscitative efforts continued for nearly 20 minutes until the patient regained a heartbeat.  During this extended period of resuscitative efforts, Officer Morgan continued to actively assist the other units in many ways to include joining in the rotation of chest compressions as the others became fatigued.  Approximately 33 minutes later, the patient was stabilized and transported to the hospital.  Officer Morgan then offered to give the patient's husband a ride to the hospital.

For his efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officer Morgan is awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

 Morgan.JPG

 

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Officer C. Serman

Life Saving Award

​On July 16, 2016, Officer Serman responded to a cardiac arrest call on Shooting Star Drive.  The caller indicated that an adult male was unconscious, not breathing and his face was turning purple.  The caller also indicated that they could not get the victim out of the chair in order to perform CPR.

Officer Serman was the first to arrive and immediately removed the victim from the chair, and placed him onto the floor to assess the situation.  After opening the victim's airway and confirming that he was not breathing and had no pulse, Officer Serman started CPR.  As EMS was arriving, the victim started to breathe and color returned to his face.  EMS transported the victim to the hospital.

Officer Serman's confidence, quick actions and utilization of life saving techniques are a testament to his professionalism and training.  His quick assessment and actions were essential in restoring the victim's life.

For his efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officer Serman is awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

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Officer C. Jachimaiake, Officer M. Cuartas, Officer M. Blumling 

Life Saving Award

​On April 7, 2016 at approximately 11:56 p.m., Emergency Communications received an assist citizen call to the 1100 block of Old Clubhouse Road.  Officers Blumling, Jachimiak and Cuartas arrived on scene and observed an adult male lying on the floor in a significant pool of blood.  Officers forced entry into the home and realized that the man was suffering from several severe lacerations to his arms and legs.  They applied a tourniquet to the man's leg, which helped control the femoral artery bleed, then packed the other wounds and applied pressure to try and stop the bleeding.  The man was transported to the hospital and immediately taken into surgery.  It was later determined that the injuries were self-inflicted.

The officers' quick thinking and thorough assessment of the situation proved essential in saving this man's life.

For their dedication to service and the preservation of life Officers Jachimaiake, Cuartas and Blumling are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

 Jachimaiake Cuartas Blumling.JPG

 Not pictured – Officer Jachimaiake and Officer Cuartas

 

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Officers J. Jordan, Officer K. Pringle

Life Saving Award

On December 3, 2016, at 6:00 p.m., Emergency Communications received an anonymous call indicating that a male and female were inside a residence on Old Clubhouse Road experiencing an overdose.  Very little information was provided prior to the caller hanging up.  Within minutes, Officer Jordan arrived on scene and made contact with an occupant of the residence who denied what the anonymous caller had reported.  Officer Jordan, taking the self-initiative to investigate, asked for consent to search the residence.  Once inside, Officer Jordan located an adult male, lying in bed, unconscious and struggling to breathe.  He also noticed drug paraphilia in plain sight.  Officer Pringle, who arrived within a minute of Officer Jordan, stayed with the male victim as Officer Jordan continued his search for the female whom he located on the other side of the residence.  She too was experiencing the same overdose symptoms.  Officer Jordan accurately recognized that both subjects were experiencing an opiate overdose and immediately radioed Officer Pringle to coordinate their actions to administer Narcan and radioed for an additional ambulance.  Both patients immediately reacted to the Narcan reviving them.  Both were transported to a local hospital where they fully recovered.

For their efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officers Jordan and Pringle are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

 Jordan Pringle.JPG

 

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MPO S. Bryant, MPO D. Austin, MPO A. Edwards, Officer J. Bott

Life Saving Award

On September 15, 2016 at approximately 5:25 p.m., Emergency Communications began receiving numerous calls reference gunshots being heard in the area of Newtown Apartments.  As officers were en route, the report was updated to be that there was an individual suffering from a gunshot wound.  Officers Bryant, Austin, Edwards and Bott arrived within moments to a very chaotic scene, with neighbors out in large numbers, running around screaming.  The officers quickly located an adult male that had been shot numerous times, the most critical injury to his neck.  Utilizing quick decision-making skills, the officers assessed the condition of the victim and began rendering first aid.  Each officer swiftly picked a wound and applied pressure, attempting to control the hemorrhaging, while waiting for medical assistance to arrive.  Due to the initial chaotic scene, EMS was not able to access them for approximately 15 minutes.  The officers were able to effectively stop the bleeding, which allowed the victim to remain conscious and alert.

The victim was taken to the hospital and rushed immediately into surgery.

The quick and effective response of the officers involved enabled the victim to survive the life-threatening injuries that he sustained.

For their dedication to service and the preservation of life Officers Bryant, Austin, Edwards and Bott are awarded the Department's Life Saving Medal.

 Bryant Austin Edwards Bott.JPG

 Not Pictured - MPO Bryant, MPO Edwards​

 

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Officer J. Ontranto, Officer E. Mabrey, Officer J. Williams, Officer J. Manning, Officer C. Curry

Life Saving with Valor Award

On December 18, 2016 at approximately 10:51 pm, Officer Otranto was stopped at a red light at the westbound 264 First Colonial Road exit.  A gray Acura was approaching from behind him, at a high rate of speed, nearly colliding with his patrol vehicle then continued on running several lights.

Officer Ontranto, suspecting the driver of that vehicle to be DUI, attempted to stop the vehicle as it travelled at a high rate of speed eastbound on interstate 264.  The vehicle pulled away and eventually crashed into a light pole at the Birdneck Road off ramp. 

The vehicle sustained heavy front-end damage, and the two occupants were pinned inside.  The light fixture that was attached to the light pole had snapped, and was hanging by live wires above the vehicle.

Officers Otranto, Mabry and Williams arrived on scene first.  They saw that flames were coming from the engine as well as from the passenger compartment of the vehicle.  Officers Williams and Mabry used their ASP batons to try and break the windows of the vehicle, so they could attempt to free the occupants.  Those attempts were unsuccessful.

As Officers Manning and Curry arrived on scene, they noted that the other officers had already started utilizing their fire extinguishers to try and put out the flames.  All five officers continued their efforts to minimize the blaze from the vehicles engine as well as the interior of the vehicle to include the citizens themselves, while disregarding concern for their own safety.  The light pole fixture with exposed electrical wires, was unstable, and at risk of falling onto the vehicle of which the occupants were still trapped.  This would have unquestionably caused serious injury to anyone around the vehicle should it have fallen.

The officers were able to control the situation until the Fire Department arrived and took over the scene.

The quick, calm and decisive actions of these officers, despite the grave dangers of the scene led to the preservation of life for both citizens.

For their efforts that were instrumental in saving the life of another, Officers Ontranto, Mabrey, Williams, Manning, and Curry are awarded the Department's Life Saving with Valor Medal.

 Ontranto Mabrey Williams Manning Curry.JPG

 

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Forensic Technician K. Mileski

Medal of Merit

*** Due to investigative techniques utilized, specific details have been redacted.  

On May 9, 2015, Brianna Armstrong was reported missing in Virginia Beach.  Detectives investigated various avenues in an attempt to locate her.  Information gathered pushed the investigation into Chesapeake and Chesapeake Police Department eventually took lead, with Virginia Beach PD assisting.

On May 31, 2015, Brianna's disarticulated body was discovered in Chesapeake.  Evidence implicated Justin Cornell.  Chesapeake Police Department investigated the homicide.

On June 9, 2015, Chesapeake PD executed a search warrant for Cornell's Virginia Beach home, which indicated the death occurred in Virginia Beach.  Mr. Cornell was arrested.  At the time of his arrest, he was operating a cell phone, which was seized.  The phone was then turned over to Forensic Tech Mileski.  Due to the type of cell phone and its mechanisms, access was not readily or easily available.  Karen spent a considerable amount of time, both during and outside her normal shift working with various entities in an attempt to find a solution.  Because of Karen's persistence and ingenuity, she was able to connect Mr. Cornell to the precise location where Brianna's body was located, 7 hours before she was found.

​Karen created a comprehensive report documenting her efforts and the analysis of the phone and testified at length at Mr. Cornell's trial.  Because of her testimony and many others, Mr. Cornell was found guilty of 2nd degree murder.

Karen clearly demonstrated her professionalism and her dedication to serving the victims of crime, as well as exceeding the goals and values set forth by the Virginia Beach Police Department and City of Virginia Beach. 

For her extraordinary work, she is awarded the Department's Medal of Merit.

 Mileski.JPG

 

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MPO B. Decker

Medal of Merit

MPO Brad Canning

Special Commendation

On March 26, 2016 at approximately 11:00 a.m., Emergency Communications received a distress call from a man who was disoriented and wandered into a thick marshy area off West Neck Road.  He became stuck in thick mud and was surrounded by 4 feet of water. 

MPO Canning, the department's helicopter pilot was contacted to assist along with members of the department's Marine Patrol.  The Air Unit utilized linear and circular search patterns, color camera and forward looking infrared FLIR in an attempt to solicit a heat source, all with negative results.  He then conducted an altitude variant in the search starting at 800 feet and dropping to 500 feet.  Ground Units were halted due to the density of the marsh and onset of deeper water.  Visibility in some areas was less than 2 feet, with vegetation composed of thick grasses, fallen trees, heavy brush and saplings 8 to 12 feet tall. 

As MPO Canning was conducting the search from the air, MPO Decker solicited the assistance of a private citizen and his johnboat.  They traveled approximately a mile and ½ down the West Neck Creek to the area near where the subject was located.  In an effort to link up MPO Decker and the subject in distress, the Air Unit dropped down toward the creek bank and deployed a smoke canister as a visual marker.  MPO Decker began his physical struggle, wading through high water that was over waist deep, and fighting through the dense brush, foliage and marsh.

MPO Decker was the first public safety member to make it to the citizen, over 2 hours after the original 911 call.  The subject was hypothermic and unable to move himself.  The attempt to move the man became labor intensive and required tools and additional personnel.  Cutting tools were needed to clear dense brush in the attempts to extricate the man.  After the response of various police, fire and EMS units, the victim was pulled out of the woods and loaded onto a boat, some 5 hours after the initial call to emergency services.

The air temperature that day was in the low 60's, and the water temperature near 50 degrees.  Continued exposure to these environmental conditions, without aide, would have resulted in a more tragic outcome had it not been for the actions of MPO's Canning and Decker

Both MPO Decker and MPO Canning demonstrated overt and gallant actions that day amidst the austere environment and physical hazards of the rescue.

For their efforts that were instrumental in bringing this person to safety, MPO Canning is awarded the Department's Special Commendation and MPO Decker is awarded the Department's Medal of Merit.

 Decker Canning.JPG

 Not pictured - MPO Canning


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MPO P. Davenport, Officer D. Shoenbach, Officer D. Hunter

Medal of Merit

Mr. Steve Patterson

Citizen Commendation

​On January 21, 2016 at approximately 5:00 p.m., units responded to a call regarding a man who just dropped a suspicious bag at gate 5 of Little Creek's Military Base.  MPO Davenport was the first to arrive on scene and made contact with the suspect who was at gate 4 and wearing a backpack.  MPO Davenport gave verbal commands, which the suspect ignored.  MPO Davenport approached the suspect and took control of the man's wrist.  As MPO Davenport began a pat down of the subject, he felt an unusual and bulky device strapped to the man's lower leg.  The device was mostly covered by the man's sock with only the top of the device exposed.  When asked what the device was, the man replied "it's a bomb" As this was transpiring, Mr. Steve Patterson walked up next to MPO Davenport and together they held the subject's hand up and away from his body.  MPO Patterson advised incoming units of the possible unstable situation.  MPO's Shoenbach and Hunter continued to respond in.

With assistance from MPO's Shoenbach and Hunter, MPO Davenport was able to separate the suspect from the additional bag he was wearing and determined that the device that the man was wearing was an electron-monitoring device from another jurisdiction.

It was later determined, through the utilization of a military canine, that the ankle device and backpack did not contain any explosives. 

As all this was transpiring, additional units responded to gate 5 where the first suspicious bag was placed.  They shut down traffic and cleared citizens from the area.

The suspect was taken into custody within approximately 4 minutes of the case being dispatched.  Ultimately, the alleged bombs were not real, but despite not knowing the validity of the threat, MPO's Davenport, Shoenbach, Hunter and Mr. Patterson, all put themselves in extreme danger, in order to keep citizens and military personnel safe.

In a time the American people are more on edge when it comes to terrorism, these individuals showed true professionalism and bravery in apprehending a potential threat to our National Security.

For these reasons, MPO Davenport, Shoenbach, Hunter is awarded the Department's Medal of Merit

For his bravery and significant assistance in apprehending this subject, Mr. Steve Patterson is awarded the Citizen's Commendation.

 Davenport Shoenbach Hunter Patterson.JPG

 Not Pictured - MPO Shoenbach, Officer Hunter

 

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Officer J. Abbattista, Officer D. Evans, Officer B. Grimes, Officer B. Staie

Medal of Merit

​On March 04, 2016 at 3:41 pm, Officers Joseph Abbattista, Daniel Evans, Brian Grimes and Bryant Staie were dispatched to a suspicious vehicle case in the 4800 block of Mandan Drive.  A citizen reported the car was running, the windows were fogged up and there was a person inside.

Officers Abbattista and Grimes arrived on scene and attempted to make contact with the person inside the vehicle.  Because of the windows being fogged up, it was extremely difficult for the officers to see inside; however, they could hear the individual in the car having a conversation on their cell phone.  Because of the context of what they heard, the officers believed the individual was going through a crisis, and may be suicidal.

When officer Staie arrived on scene, the individual quickly exited his vehicle with a large hunting/survival knife and began to challenge the officers to kill him.  The officers created distance and used barriers in an effort to gain time to negotiate with him and attempt to deescalate the situation.

The male ignored the officer's commands and repeatedly approached them with the knife.  Although fearful for their safety, the officers showed great restraint for an extended period of time.

When Officer Evans arrived on scene, he observed what was transpiring and retrieved the less lethal Sage from his vehicle.  Officer Evans redirected the males' aggression towards himself in order to gain a better position to be able to effectively deploy the sage baton.  Evans gave the subject additional commands to drop the knife, and when he failed to comply, Evans discharged the sage, striking him.  The man was immediately disoriented as he went down to one knee.  While he was no longer advancing on the officers, he maintained possession and control of the knife.  Officer Grimes approached the man while the other officers held lethal cover.  Grimes was able to successfully dislodge the weapon from the man's hand by utilizing his collapsible baton.  The other officers then assisted in placing the individual into custody.

These officers combined efforts to resolve this dangerous situation without inflicting serious harm to the individual in crisis speaks highly of their commitment to providing all individuals with the appropriate level of protection.  They accomplished this while maintaining appropriate safety parameters for themselves.  They demonstrated their ability to think and perform under stressful circumstances.  They all showed incredible courage by placing themselves in danger in order to bring this situation to a close without the use of deadly force. 

It is for these reasons that Officers Abbattista, Evans, Grimes and Staie are being awarded the Medal of Merit.

 Abbattista Evans Grimes Staie.JPG

 

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Sergeant J. Cole

Silver Cross

On June 10, 2016 Sergeant Justin Cole, along with other third precinct units were dispatched to a townhome on Johnathon Court for a report of a stabbing.

Sergeant Cole was the first to arrive on scene and observed three individuals standing on the front porch area of the residence.  One of the individuals was wearing a shirt with what appeared to be blood on it.

 As Sergeant Cole approached the individuals, he observed one subject produce a long knife.  The man began to yell at Sergeant Cole that he wanted him to "stay back, stay back".  As Sergeant Cole was now in a position between the armed individual and his vehicle, lacking any type of immediate barrier or safe cover, he drew his service weapon and engaged the armed man while telling him to drop the knife.

 Sergeant Cole observed that the suspect was holding the knife in his right hand, while using his left hand to hold onto the other individual wearing the bloody shirt.  The armed subject was grabbing different parts of the man's body, preventing him from leaving.  The suspect repeatedly ducked behind the hostage, concealing himself from Sergeant Cole and preventing Sergeant Cole from being able to fire his weapon.

The man was repeatedly pleading with the suspect to not harm him.  Realizing the hostage was in great peril, Sergeant Cole began to close the distance between himself and the suspect while continually engaging the suspect to keep his attention focused on him. 

Sergeant Cole also observed a third individual near the doorway of the home whose role in this incident at the time was unclear.  While Sergeant Cole was communicating with the suspect, he was also able to provide instructions to this third individual and get him to move out of harm's way.

As Sergeant Cole was approaching the suspect and hostage, he observed what he believed to be a substantial amount of blood on the concrete in close proximity to the front door.  While the suspect appeared to have bloodstains on his hands and clothing, Sergeant Cole did not observe any of the three people he encountered thus far bleeding to the extent that they could have created the blood pattern he observed.  This caused sergeant Cole to believe there may have been additional injured people inside the home.

Sergeant Cole was trying to prevent the suspect from retreating back into the home; however, the suspect abruptly pulled the hostage inside the front door and into the front hallway area of the townhouse. 

Fearing for the hostages' safety, Sergeant Cole advanced to the front door, pushed it open and held it open with his foot in order to maintain visual contact with the suspect.  It was at that point that Sergeant Cole observed the legs of a woman lying on the floor just inside the front door.  Sergeant Cole was unsure whether that person was alive or not, but he suspected they were significantly injured due to the amount of blood in the area and the fact that the woman was not responding to his verbal communication attempts.

Sergeant Cole was still the only officer on scene, so he communicated with the dispatcher via police radio what he had observed and directed the actions of incoming units, to include directions to deploy a sage less lethal impact weapon.  The suspect continued to crouch behind the hostage, preventing Sergeant Cole from firing at him.

At one point, Sergeant Cole observed that the suspect had loosened his grip somewhat, so he instructed the hostage to pull away, and directed him towards the officers who were then beginning to arrive on scene.

Sergeant Cole continued to negotiate with the suspect from a position where he could protect the woman lying on the floor from further assault.  After repeated verbal commands, the suspect eventually dropped the knife to the ground.  Sergeant Cole held a position of tactical advantage and provided the suspect instructions on exiting the home to surrender.  The suspect finally complied.

The assist officers then took the suspect into custody without further incident.

Unfortunately, the victim that was seen lying on the floor was deceased.  It was determined that she likely died prior to Sergeant Cole's arrival on scene.  While that fact is tragic, there is no doubt that Sergeant Cole's calm demeanor, measured approach and courageous actions likely saved not only the hostages life, but also the life of the suspect.

Sergeant Cole remained focused and in control, and brought this matter to as safe of a resolution as possible.  In doing so, he distinguished himself by displaying extraordinary bravery in the face of great danger and adversity.

For these noble and heroic acts, Sergeant Justin Cole is awarded the department's Silver Cross

 Cole.JPG

 

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Officer G. Yorgan, Officer D. Evans, Officer R. Bryant

Medal of Valor

​On September 04, 2016, multiple public safety units responded to the 5300 block of Northampton Blvd for a report of a swimmer in distress.

Officers Gregory Yorgan, Daniel Evans and Randall Bryant were the first to arrive on scene.  They located a man at the spillway that separates Lake Smith and the Little Creek Reservoir.

Water levels and currents were extremely high due to a recent tropical storm that had passed through the day before, during which Virginia Beach had received several inches of rain.

The water in the spillway was both deep and rapidly moving.  As the officers approached, they could see the victim just below where the water entered the spillway, holding onto some sort of flotation device.  The victim had been canoeing on Lake Smith, capsized, and was sucked into the spillway by the rapidly moving water.

The officers were able to communicate with the man and they could tell he was already exhausted and would be unable to swim across the moving water to safety.

Without regard for their own safety, and with no lifesaving equipment to utilize, Officers Evans, Yorgan and Bryant entered the water in an attempt to reach the victim.

Officer Evans was hanging onto a rope along the edge of where the water was flowing, trying to reach across to the victim.  He was unsuccessful as the distance to the victim was too far and he was unable to coax the victim to release the object he was holding onto.  Officers Yorgan and Bryant then jumped into the water in an effort to cross the spillway quick enough to grab the victim and pull him to safety. 

Both officers were immediately sucked under the water due to strong current and undertow.  The officers managed to fight back to the surface and maintain a visual on the victim, but could no longer reach him and they were now in danger themselves.

Officer Evans continued to fight the surging water and was able to persuade the victim to grab a line that he was holding onto.  At this point the victim appeared to be exhausted and barely holding on.

Officer Evans let go of his safety line and attempted to cross the spillway to reach the victim.  He was drawn underwater and forced out, away from the spillway.  Officer Evans was able to fight his way back to the surface, but now, he too was at the point of exhaustion. 

Officer Bryant looked through the tunnel, saw a man on a johnboat on the opposite side, and proceeded to get his help.  However, before they could maneuver the boat to assist the victim, Bryant saw the victim tire out and let go of the rope.  The victim was pulled underwater and did not resurface for quite a while.

When Officer Bryant got to the other side of the tunnel, a firefighter was entering the water with a paddleboard.  They saw the victim floating out of the spillway, unconscious.  The firefighter grabbed the victim and took him to land to render aid. 

Officer Bryant then got on the paddleboard and entered the spillway again to retrieve Officer's Yorgan and Evans.  They both were able to grab onto the paddleboard and exit the spillway.

EMS arrived on scene and began to render aid to the victim, but unfortunately, he did not survive the ordeal.  Regardless of the outcome, Officers Yorgan, Evans, and Bryant entered into a situation that they knew was dangerous, and did so without a second thought.  They distinguished themselves by extraordinary bravery and put their own lives in imminent danger in an attempt to save the life of a man they had never met. 

During this effort, all three could have easily lost their own lives.

​Their display of gallantry and courage are the reasons they are being awarded the Department's Medal of Valor. 

Yorgan Evans Bryant.JPG


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