For the seventh year in a row, the Metropolitan Police Department is honoring outstanding police officers, civilian employees, agency partners and community members who have helped to make DC neighborhoods safer over the past year. More than 400 individuals and organizations were recognized during the MPD’s 7th Annual Awards Ceremony, held Tuesday evening, December 5, at DAR Constitutional Hall in Northwest DC.
Among the MPDC employees being honored are the following:
Fifth District Officer Arthur Hopper received the Officer of the Year Medal. In just three years on the force, Officer Hopper has distinguished himself through impressive arrest activity, exemplary problem-solving skills and commitment to community policing. Assigned to the first watch in PSA 504, he was responsible for arresting 28 felons for serious crimes over the past year, including 11 suspects on serious weapons charges. When the Fifth District was confronted with crime and disorder problems around a lounge on 5th Street, NE, Officer Hopper used his problem-solving skills to develop a plan with club management and other PSA officers to disperse the patrons after closing – and arrest those who continued to cause trouble. When he learned that another club was applying for a liquor license and planned to open in a residential neighborhood – against the community’s wishes – he reached out to residents, heard their concerns and explained the process for them to get involved. With strong opposition from the community, the ABC Board denied the license.
Detective Robert Saunders, of the First District Detectives’ Office, received the Detective of the Year Medal. Over the past year, he has been involved with some of the most complicated and highest-profile serious crimes in the First District. Last January, he came in on his day off to assist with the investigation of an afternoon shooting on G Street, SE. Before the night was over, he had secured an arrest warrant for the suspect and a search warrant for his home. Shortly thereafter, the suspect turned himself in. Among other cases, Detective Saunders closed a brutal attack and robbery of an Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner in Southwest, as well as a pattern of nearly a dozen street robberies in Northeast. He was also instrumental in the successful investigation of the robberies and sexual assault that took place in and around the National Mall this past summer.
Officer Brad Forster of the Fourth District received the Medal of Honor, the MPDC's premier honor presented for acts of exceptional bravery. Last April, he pursued a stolen auto suspect into a basement stairwell and became engaged in a struggle with the suspect over the officer’s gun. In the process, Officer Forster was shot in the leg, but still managed to assist other responding officers in apprehending the suspect. Forster and retired Fourth District Officer Alberto Diaz also received the Medal of Valor, presented for heroism, for their role in apprehending the suspect. Officers Dale Vernick and Thomas Caddell of the Sixth District received Medals of Valor for apprehending armed suspects who had fired on the officers from a vehicle. The officers made the arrests without firing back on the suspects, which would have endangered residents of the Northeast neighborhood where the incident took place.
Glenn Duncan, a crime analyst in the Third District, was awarded the civilian Employee of the Year Medal, for his work on detecting and analyzing crime trends – in particular, robbery patterns that contributed to several arrests. The Joseph Pozell Reserve Officer of the Year Medal was given to Reserve Officer Kenneth Washington of the Seventh District. He volunteered 527 hours to the MPDC last year, assisting on several arrests and writing numerous traffic citations. This award is named for Reserve Officer Pozell, who died while directing traffic in Georgetown in May 2005.
These eight individuals are just a few of the police officers, civilian employees and residents who were honored during Tuesday’s ceremony. Chief of Police Charles H. Ramsey began the MPDC’s Annual Awards Ceremony back in the year 2000. “For everything that our dedicated police officers, civilian professionals and community partners do – day in and day out – to make our city safer and our police department more effective, this ceremony is the least that we can do to honor them. The dramatic turnaround in public safety in Washington, DC, is the direct result of their efforts, and this ceremony is our opportunity to salute these heroes publicly and emphatically.”
Other awards include the Blue Badge Medal, for members injured in the line of duty; the Lifesaving Medal; the Meritorious Service Medal, for outstanding contributions; the Achievement Medal, for individual acts of skill or bravery; and the Unit Citation, for excellence by an entire MPD unit.
In addition, the Chief of Police Special Award is presented to community members who have excelled in supporting crime prevention and community policing, and the Chief's Award of Merit is given to members of other agencies who have assisted the MPD in significant operations.
Jackie Bensen and Pat Collins of WRC-TV, News 4 served as emcees for the event.