By John Sharp
Numerous Kansas City police officers were honored for their acts of heroism and saving persons’ lives at a large award ceremony June 29 at the Police Academy attended by some of the persons who owe their lives to the officers’ actions. The event was not held last year due to Covid mandate.
Officer Alex Saragusa received a distinguished service medal for continuing to pursue a vehicle despite being fired at for about a minute by its occupants, resulting in the vehicle finally being stopped by other officers without injury to the occupants or any innocent bystanders.
Life-saving awards were presented to Officer Cory Anderson, Officer Audrey Crosby, Officer Alexander Cruz, Officer Matthew DeLoux, Officer Kegan Gemmell, Officer Devin Hales, Detective Thomas Hammond, Officer Dylan Jehnzen, Officer Christopher Martin, Officer Austin Moats, Detective Jacqulynn Mutschler, Officer Janna Rumney, Detective Jeremy Sheer, Officer Sean Sullivan, Officer Lucas Tarwater, Sergeant Christopher Toigo, Detective Robert Treese, Officer Malcolm Whitelaw and former Officer Kelsey Wingate.
Officer Nathan Harper, a former U.S. Navy Corpsman, received two life-saving awards for saving the lives of two persons in separate incidents.
Sergeant Jason Cramblit and Officer Nicholaus Simons were presented certificates of commendation for taking a suicidal man armed with a knife who had threatened to kill officers and himself safely into custody so he could be transported for mental health assistance.
Several officers also were given certificates of commendation for their role in quickly aiding victims and apprehending suspects when shooting broke out in the midst of a large crowd gathered outside an adult entertainment venue. They got aid for four shooting victims and recovered eight firearms and over 50 shell casings from the dangerous scene.
Certificates of commendation were presented to Sergeants Cory LeMoine and Mark Slater, Retired Sergeant Christopher DeFreece, and Officers Ruben Gonzales, Jeffrey Herman, Luke Robison and Brandon Sherman.
Certificates of commendation also were given to Sergeant Janice Heins and Detectives Hobart Price and Daniel Thomas for their lengthy investigation into the shooting death of four-year-old LeGend Taliferro who was asleep in his apartment that resulted in filing second degree murder charges against the alleged shooter.
FBI Special Agent Trisha DeWet was given a certificate of appreciation for her assistance in the investigation.
Officer Eric Winter was given a certificate of commendation for the help he gave on and off duty for several years to an elderly woman suffering from dementia who he met on a call for service and his assistance in finding room for her in a memory care facility.
Meritorious service awards were given to Wellness Specialist Robert Blehm, Computer Services Analyst Jeffrey Dillbeck, Captain Joshua Heinen, Sergeant Edward Lamport, Officer Samuel Leslie, Major Joel Lovelady, Administrative Assistant Angela McCune, Retired Master Detective Timothy Mountz, Retired Officer Rita Olson-Stawicki, Officer Antoney Perez, Inventory Specialist Eric Robinson, Sergeant Derek Rothert, Sergeant Grant Ruark, Officer Michael Sartain, Officer Kenneth Secaida, Detective Daniel Thomas, Officer Giuseppe “Joe” Trombino and Officer Daniel Watson.
The department’s DUI Section received a special unit citation for processing a record number of DUI cases to help keep impaired drivers off the road. Section members – Officers Douglas Davidson, Jordan Infranca and Jeremy White – received certificates of commendation for the number of DUI cases they each processed.
Two community members were honored with certificates of appreciation for their support for the department and its personnel.
A certificate of appreciation was presented to Dr. John Hagan for his long-time financial support for the department and associated nonprofit organizations and for volunteering his time to talk to numerous officers to express his support.
A certificate of appreciation also was presented to Stephen Haith, owner of DSG Equipment, who personally helped his employees clean off paint that vandals had sprayed on the police memorial statue in front of Police Headquarters and on the buildings’ front doors. He refused to accept payment for this work and for cleaning off graffiti at the Central Patrol Station.