Justice Department Honors Law Enforcement Officers and Deputies in Second Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing
Yesterday, September 18, 2018, Attorney General Jeff Sessions and Justice Department leadership announced the recipients of the Second Annual Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing, recognizing the exceptional work of 25 law enforcement officers and deputies from 12 jurisdictions across the country.
“The Trump Administration supports law enforcement at all levels—and we always will,” said Attorney General Sessions. “Today’s awards honor the incredible work that is being done across this country every day. This Department of Justice takes pride in announcing today’s winners of the Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service in Policing.”
The Justice Department has been committed to supporting law enforcement and continues to back the “women and men in blue,” as directed by President Trump’s February 2017 Executive Order. The Department has recently awarded grants to assist law enforcement and first responders who supported mass shootings in Las Vegas, Nevada, Parkland, Florida, and Santa Fe, Texas. In addition, the Department has helped police departments across America to hire hundreds more police officers through the COPS grant program.
The Attorney General’s Award recognizes individual state, local, and tribal sworn rank-and-file police officers and deputies for exceptional efforts in policing. The awarded officers and deputies have demonstrated active engagement with the community in one of three areas: criminal investigations, field operations or innovations in community policing. The Department received 207 nominations for 469 individuals ranging from state police departments, to local police, to campus public safety agencies. This award highlights the work that officers and deputies do to prevent, intervene in, and respond to crime and public safety issues. The individuals recognized today are listed below:
INNOVATIONS IN COMMUNITY POLICING
Sergeant Sean Crotty of the Little Egg Harbor Police Department, New Jersey:
Sergeant Sean Crotty is the school resource officer at the local high school. His main responsibility is the protection of the school community. However, he also takes on the arguably greater role of getting involved with students, shaping the way they view law enforcement, and helping mold them into productive community members. While Sergeant Crotty’s “beat” is the high school, this does not limit him to creating relationships with the younger students in the community. In his years with the department, Sergeant Crotty started a Junior Police Academy for middle school students, enhanced free Police Athletic League (PAL) programs, and added a Junior Police Explorers program.
Detective John Rastetter of the Canton Police Department, Ohio:
Detective Michael Rastetter’s work with those suffering from opioid addiction has set him apart among a department full of dedicated officers continuously looking for innovative ways to serve their community. Detective Rastetter became the point person for the newly created Stark County Outreach Support (SOS) team, a quick response team made up of a nurse, a social worker and a vice detective. SOS has engaged 70 overdose survivors and 33 family members, connected 30 individuals with rehabilitation services and provided 19 Naloxone kits, leading to a reduction of nearly 60 percent in opioid-related overdose deaths in 2017. Detective Rastetter is a large part of the success of the program and decline in the overdose deaths.
Officer Laurie Reyes of the Montgomery County Police Department, Maryland:
Officer Laurie Reyes noticed that repeated searches for the same critically missing people (individuals with autism, intellectual and developmental disabilities [IDD], and Alzheimer’s disease) demanded a large portion of departmental resources, both in money and in officers’ time. She created the nationally recognized “Autism, Intellectual, Developmental Disabilities, and Alzheimer’s Outreach Program” as a way to promote awareness and safety through education, outreach, follow-up, empowerment and response. Officer Reyes identified a problem and developed a creative solution, which had a significant impact on public safety and public trust, all at no additional fiscal cost to the agency.
Officer Megan Freer of the Middleton Township Police Department, Pennsylvania:
In the summer of 2017, a 19-year-old man went missing near Middletown Township. Officer Freer began an intensive investigation into the missing person case, which eventually led to the discovery of a horrific quadruple homicide in Solebury Township, about 20 miles away. Officer Freer’s incredible investigative efforts led to the arrest of two 20-year-olds charged with murder of the four young men, and providing closure for the families of those missing young men. This was a tremendous effort of policing and police investigation, and Officer Freer has received several awards for her investigative effort, including the Philadelphia National Liberty Museum Award of Valor in September 2017.
Detective Andrew Beuschel, Jr. of the Evesham Township Police Department, New Jersey:
In December 2017, a father called the police when he found his 15-year-old daughter unresponsive due to a possible drug overdose; an ambulance transported the victim to the hospital, where she subsequently died from a heroin overdose two days later. Detective Beuschel investigated the case, including interviews and evidence from numerous warrants on cell phones, computers, and social media accounts, and was able to locate the suspected seller. Detective Beuschel’s persistence led to arrest warrants for possession of heroin, distribution of heroin, and ultimately, strict liability of the suspect for the drug-induced death of the 15-year-old victim.
Trooper Joel D. Follmer of the Pennsylvania State Police:
State Trooper Joel D. Follmer’s determined efforts and innovative policing techniques on an 18-month series of kidnapping and rape investigations throughout Pennsylvania led to the arrest of a serial rapist with assaults dating back as far as 1994. Trooper Follmer arrested the suspect in December of last year, who immediately confessed to several cases, and provided information on many others that he had attempted in the past and was planning in the future. The suspect is currently awaiting trial.
Sergeant Girard Tell III and Sergeant Ryan VanSyckle of the Pleasantville Police Department, New Jersey:
Since 2016, Sergeants Tell and VanSyckle have consistently led the department in arrests and drug seizures by their dogged persistence to seek out and dismantle criminal street gangs, including a regional investigation, which netted more than 100 felony indictments against the South Side Mob street gang. Their tireless drive to remove the most dangerous and violent offenders has had a significant impact on the criminal operating environment within the community, including a steady downward trend of gun violence and a 55 percent decrease in confirmed shooting calls for service.
Corporal Richard White III of the Ohio County Sheriff’s Office, West Virginia:
In June 2017, dispatchers notified law enforcement and fire department agencies regarding several people who had flipped over their boats while kayaking and got caught in the swift current in Wheeling Creek. Corporal White arrived on the scene and waded into the heavy current, rescuing two females caught in the downstream. Corporal White was instrumental in preventing a possible tragic incident while putting himself in harm’s way. About a year earlier, a little boy had died after falling into the creek. Corporal White’s quick and selfless action helped ensure that those circumstances were not repeated.
Deputy Ned Nemeth of the Washoe County Sheriff’s Office, Nevada:
Deputy Nemeth has demonstrated active exceptional performance in field operations. As a full time K-9 handler, he works highway interdiction and has successfully reduced illegal operations in the past year along the I-80 corridor, including seizing 206 pounds of illegal marijuana, 359.42 grams of methamphetamine, and 43 contraband prescription opioid pain pills. Deputy Nemeth is known for providing high quality information about his interstate contacts to other agencies across the country. His efforts as a part of the HIDTA task force in northern Nevada not only have positive effects on his own community but also make meaningful contributions to other jurisdictions working to disrupt and dismantle organized drug trafficking operations nationwide.
Detective Thomas Curley of the Wilmington Police Department, Delaware:
Over the past 14 years, Wilmington Detective Thomas Curley has provided outstanding efforts in conducting criminal investigations to protect the people of Wilmington from gangs and violent crime, including the first successful illegal gang prosecution in the State of Delaware, which was later upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court. He possesses the ability to seek out and successfully talk with witnesses to develop leads and works tirelessly coordinating complex investigations. Detective Curley is dedicated to his job and strives for justice for the victims of violent crimes.
Officers Jeremiah Beason, Patrick Burke, Monty Fetherston, and Steve Morris, Jr., of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department, Nevada:
On October 2017, at approximately 10:05 p.m., a lone gunman fired into a crowd of 22,000 concertgoers attending a country music festival in Las Vegas, killing 58 innocent people and injuring more than 850. Las Vegas Metropolitan Officers Beason, Burke, Fetherston, and Morris were the first four first responders to react during this active shooter situation. These four officers rescued injured civilians, cleared the surrounding rooms near the shooter, and secured the perimeter. By running towards the danger, they saved countless lives.
Officers Jose Arriaga, Ruben Avalos, Carlos Escobar, Randy Jreisat, Arthur Meza, Ashley Mitchell, David Nick, Jr., Adrian Nuñez, Christina Salas, and Solly Samara of the Los Angeles Police Department, California:
In September 2017, the Los Angeles Police Department created the MacArthur Park Task Force to conduct uniform patrol in and around MacArthur Park and other surrounding areas. This team worked to restore order to the community around MacArthur Park by applying constant law enforcement and community involvement to the area to combat all crime and quality of life issues. These ten officers made 1,125 arrests in 32 weeks, issued 980 citations and offered services to hundreds of individuals. Their work is directly responsible for a 40 percent reduction of Part 1 crimes and a 46 percent reduction of violent crimes in the zone. These 10 officers helped transform this park and its surrounding neighborhood from its former blight, turning it into a clean, beautiful park.