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It was befitting that St. Louis Police Chief Dan Isom would get the honor of presenting medals to the men in blue at this year’s 40th Medal of Valor luncheon: Of the 21 who received medals, nearly half represented his department.
Isom said the events each of the police officers faced proved they deserved the award, events that ranged from seizing weapons after witnessing a gunbattle, to overpowering a suspect who tried to steal an officer’s car, to chasing down a gunman who tossed his weapons off the Eads Bridge.
“We truly have some dedicated officers who are extremely brave and courageous,” Isom said after the ceremony. “It’s just incredible what they accomplish on a daily basis.”
Officers arrived dressed in their department’s blues and browns, with some in dress suits, for the 2009 Medal of Valor luncheon at the Hilton St. Louis at the Ballpark.
The gala was sponsored by the Crusade Against Crime of America and the St. Louis Area Police Chiefs’ Association. It is the highest award given by the community at large to a law enforcement officer.
Honored with the Medal of Valor were:
From the St. Louis Police Department: Officers Dwaine Hollinshed, Matthew Simpson, David Calcaterra, Craig Robertson, Ishmael Tyson and Edgar Stegall; Detectives Soloman Thurman and Frank Williams; Sgts. Harvey Burnett and Scott Boyher.
From the St. Louis County Police Department: Officers Daniel Brinkman and Jacob Maechling and Detective Kurt Hauser.
Also honored were: Florissant police Officer Kirk Lawless; Missouri Highway Patrol Trooper Timothy Craig; Missouri Department of Conservation agent Robert Sulkowski; Moline Acres police Officers Charles Dawson Sr. and Derrick Sutton and Detective Sgt. David Bobo; and O’Fallon police Officers Michael Doerge Sr. and Charles Niel.
Each recipient’s heroic efforts either saved a life or prevented a senseless death, said event host Karen Foss, senior vice president at AmerenUE.
Consider the case of Officers Hollinshed and Simpson. On Oct. 1, 2007, the officers spotted a gunman chasing another one, while firing shots at him. As they ran across Kingshighway, Simpson distracted the gunman, who turned his gun toward the officers and began firing at them.
Simpson returned fire and struck the man — several times — ending the gunfight.
“The officers ran to where the man had fallen, recovered his weapon and handcuffed him,” Foss told the attendees. “After handcuffing him, they realized he had stopped breathing and lost his pulse.”
She said the officers were soon surrounded by a group of the assailant’s neighborhood friends.
“Realizing the dangers of the situation, but knowing they could not let the man die, the officers removed the handcuffs, and Officer Simpson turned his back to the crowd and began CPR.”
Foss said Simpson revived the assailant. He later died.
“The officer’s selfless acts gave the man a second chance at life and saved the life of another,” Foss said.
The Medal of Valor is awarded in recognition of a conspicuous act of bravery that exceeds the normal demands of police service. It expresses the community’s gratitude for the sound judgment demonstrated by an officer in the performance of his or her duty.
By Denise Hollinshed