AMARILLO, TX (KFDA) - It's been a busy last few months for Amarillo police and now their hard work is being recognized.
There were just TOO many awards to give out in person at the ceremony, but the APD managed to award multiple officers for their hard work in the community, for the very first time.
June 14 was a tough day for all Amarillo law enforcement, as a standoff at Walmart on Georgia received attention all over the U.S. While it was difficult for bystanders, officers had an even harder job.
At the ceremony many were commended for their swift thinking in the situation. For the first time, an awards ceremony was held to honor those who put their life on the line.
"I think that people should be recognized and for things like that, they should be recognized in front of their peers," APD Interim Chief Ed Drain said. "So, that's the genesis of the idea for this."
Officers were also honored for their time with the force, many having over 20 years under their belt, and medals for situations where on and off-duty officers stepped in to save a life were handed out.
Chief Drain said this ceremony is a reflection of the appreciation he has for the men and women in blue.
"Some officers will say that they don't think that being recognized by their peers is important, but you know most of the guys brought their families," Drain said. "I think it's good for their families that these officers are also publicly recognized."
Due to the Walmart situation once again there were too many awards to give out; however, they will be presented to officers at a later date. Drain feels his department in Plano was a bit of an inspiration for this new ceremony, which may also make it easier for officers to come into work and know their work will be appreciated.
"The agency that I'm currently employed by full time, the Plano police department, we do an annual...a quarterly ceremony and then we also do an annual award show for even bigger awards. I think something like that would fit good in Amarillo police department. Especially with so many officers doing such good work here."
Here is a list of the incidents that led to today's awards:
On Aug. 25, at 2:00 PM, Chief Drain held a department awards ceremony for civilians and sworn personnel. He presented SWAT team members Corporal Gary Hamilton and Corporal Brian Ainsworth with the Medal of Valor for their roles in the Wal-Mart incident on June 14, 2016. Hamilton and Ainsworth were inside of the store and played a key part in saving two hostages from an armed suspect.
Officer J.C. Drennan was also presented with the Medal of Valor for his response to a vehicle accident on May 14, 2016. Drennan arrived on scene of the accident at IH-40 and Paramount and saw that the vehicle was upside down and fully engulfed in flames. Officer Drennan saw a person trapped in the back seat of the vehicle and at great risk to his own life, approached the fire and pulled the victim to safety. Drennan was able to get the victim out of the burning car and save his life that day. The Medal of Valor is the highest award given by the police department. An officer must show exceptional bravery and courageous action at great risk of life or bodily injury to receive this award.
Officer Keifer Burton and Officer Hamilton Stanfield received Life Saving Awards. On March 14, 2016, they were dispatched to the Slim's Pool Palace on a shooting. Burton and Stanfield found two victims suffering from gunshot wounds. They applied tourniquets to the victims, one of whom had an arterial bleed. The actions of the officers saved both of the victim's lives.
Officer David Wolven and Officer Nathan Thompson received life saving awards. On June 6, 2016 Thompson and Wolven were dispatched to the pedestrian bridge at Amarillo Blvd and Kentucky on a suicidal person. The person was threatening to jump from the bridge. The officers were able to pull the person off of the guardrail just as he was about to jump. The officers took the person to safety and there by saved his life.
Officer Ray Tollerson received an Education Award for acquiring his Bachelor's Degree in Applied Science with a major in Justice Administration. Corporal Justin Graham received an Education Award for acquiring his Master's Degree in Arts of Management with a specialization in Organizational Management.
Several employees were also recognized for their time of service with the department. Lieutenant Berry Carden, Lieutenant Ephraim Contreras, Sergeant Marvin Hill, Sergeant Rodney Clark, Sergeant Keith Cook, and civilian employee Sherry Naylor were recognized for thirty years of service to the City of Amarillo. Civilian Employee Tracy Carr was recognized for twenty years of service.
Several officers have been recognized with other awards, and they will be presented to them by their divisions on a later date. Fifty nine police department employees from the rank of lieutenant down to officer received the Meritorious Service Award. This award is presented to employees for their outstanding performance of duties under unusual, complicated or hazardous conditions of any period of time. Ninety Two employees from the rank of colonel down to officer received Operation Citations. This is presented to any officer that causes favorable review by a fellow employee or a civilian and also shows exemplary judgment, initiative, or conduct.
The Amarillo Police Department wants to congratulate all of the employees that received awards and thank all of its employees for their service. They also want to thank the citizens of Amarillo for allowing us to serve you.