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CHAMPS Award - July 2011 Recipients

The Capital Hotels Award Metropolitan Police Service (CHAMPS) Award Luncheon was held Thursday, July 7, 2011, at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, 1330 Maryland Avenue, SW, in Washington, DC. Sworn members from the following units received awards for their service to the Washington, DC, community. See CHAMPS Award for more information on the awards.

Criminal Investigations Division

First District Detectives
Detective Thomas Smith
Detective Dennis Myles
Detective Gary Johnson
Detective Andre Williams
Detective Raymond Stargel

First District
Officer Louis Schneider
Officer Katrina Harrison
Officer Brett Bartholomew

On March 15, 2011 Alexander Barnwell, 55, of Washington, DC, pled guilty to charges of robbery and first degree theft in a pair of incidents that targeted Metro bus passengers.  The robbery charge carries up to 15 years in prison and the theft charge has a maximum penalty of 10 years incarceration.

Barnwell was arrested after an investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department
(MPD) and Metro Transit Police into a series of pickpocketing incidents that took place in recent years in and around Metro stations and bus stops, including crimes at or near the Farragut North Metro station, Union Station, and the bus loading area in the 1000 block of New York Avenue, NW.  As part of his plea agreement, Barnwell admitted to two incidents.  In the most recent case, he admitted that on January 14, 2011, at approximately 12 pm, he and an accomplice pretended to accidentally bump into a young woman who was attempting to board a charter bus in the 1000 block of` New York Avenue, NW, throwing her off balance.  While the woman was distracted, one of the men reached into her bag and stole her wallet.  Within an hour, the victim’s credit card was used to purchase men’s apparel and other items at a department store in Arlington, Va.  Barnwell also admitted that on August 18, 2009, at approximately 5 pm, he and an accomplice pretended to accidentally bump into a 90-year old man who was entering the Farragut North Metro station.  The victim, who uses a cane, realized after the encounter that his wallet had been stolen from his back pocket.  Within 30 minutes of the incident, Barnwell used the victim’s credit card to purchase $1,000 worth of gift cards from a department store.

In announcing the plea, U.S. Attorney Machen commended the actions of MPD First District Detectives Thomas Smith, Dennis Myles, Gary Johnson, Andre Williams, and Raymond Stargel, and MPD Officers Louis Schneider, Katrina Harrison, and Brett Bartholomew.

  • Read the News Release from the US Attorney for the District of Columbia

Criminal Investigations Division

First District
Officer Charles Viggiani
Officer Scott Gaumond
Officer Kevin Wagner
Officer Millard Pitts

On March 3, 2011, at approximately 5:40 pm, officers received a radio transmission about a fire at the Potomac Gardens Housing Complex.  Officers Charles Viggiani, Scott Gaumond, Kevin Wagner, and Millard Pitts responded to the scene and, without any form of fire protective gear or regard for their own safety and welfare, ran inside the burning building to assist the citizens who were trapped.  The fire, located on the third through fifth floors, was quickly engulfing the entire building.  The officers removed the residents from smoke-filled hallways and stairwells.  After safely removing the residents, the officers administered blankets and assisted in finding wheelchairs.

These members should be highly commended as they were able to rescue several disabled elderly residents through their heroic efforts.  As a result of their self-sacrificing actions, there were no casualties; only two residents were transported to the hospital for minor smoke inhalation.

Third District
Officer Charles Viggiani
Officer Tandreia Green
Officer Martin Garrison
Officer Benjamin Firehock
Officer Joseph Mulcahy

On Wednesday, March 30, 2011, at approximately 8:30 pm, Officer Tandreia Green (assigned to Mountain Bike 302), was given a radio-run to respond to the 3600 block of Georgia Avenue, NW, for a Disorderly Conduct call at a nail salon.  Officer Green responded to the address and interviewed the employees who reported that a male subject who frequents the area had created a disturbance at their door. The subject left and returned with another subject a short time later.  The two subjects tampered with the business door, leading the employees to believe that they would be robbed.  The subjects fled prior to police arrival.  Officer Green obtained a lookout and, with the assistance of Sergeants Theodore Dyson and Ellen Bader, was able to stop one of the subjects, who matched the description provided by the nail salon employees.

The subject did not have identification and identified himself verbally.  Officer Green, having had contact with him before, realized he was providing a different name and information than he had given her on other occasions.  Officer Green exhausted all reasonable means of confirming the subject’s identity at that time, but had no other reason to detain him and he was subsequently released.

On Thursday, March 31, 2011, Sergeant Bader, who was the roll call official that day, found Officer Green already at work, an hour and a half before the start of her tour. She was attempting to confirm the identity of the subject she had stopped the previous evening using various law enforcement tools.

Officer Green’s perseverance paid off.  After trying a combination of methods, she learned that subject’s real name, confirmed by a law enforcement photograph and arrest record.  His extensive arrest record includes: Assault on a Police Officer with a Dangerous Weapon, Fugitive From Justice, Bail Jumping, Simple Assault, UUV, RSP, POCA, Vending Violations, Destruction of Property, DUI, Disorderly Conduct, Fare Evasion, Felony Threats, and Theft.

Once Officer Green confirmed the subject’s true identity, she learned that he had six outstanding warrants in the District of Columbia and four additional warrants held in the state of Virginia.  Immediately after roll call, Officer Green responded to her beat and began canvassing for the wanted suspect.

Again, her diligence led her to locate the suspect, where she was able to stop and place him in handcuffs without incident.  Officer Benjamin Firehock and Officer Martin Garrison quickly arrived and assisted Officer Green in detaining and searching him and in conducting a WALES check.

An energetic probationary officer, Officer Joseph Mulcahy, had informed various members earlier in the week that he was actively trying to increase his arrest stats and would be willing to take on new experiences and additional training opportunities in order to enhance and improve his level of knowledge and competence.  He was subsequently called to the scene where he eagerly handled the arrest and all of the necessary paperwork, demonstrating his enthusiasm to take full advantage of his training period.

Officer Green is a business beat officer; she patrols the Georgia Avenue corridor on her mountain bike.  She knows every business and nearly every citizen that lives in and frequents the Georgia Avenue area that she patrols.  Her vast, invaluable knowledge has been instrumental in the closure of several robberies, assaults, and other violent crime cases, as well as the identification of potential suspects in ongoing investigations.  Her initiative, dedication, hard work, and overall police performance is consistently exemplary. She is a rare and invaluable asset to the Department and to the citizens of the District of Columbia.  In this particular case, she went above and beyond taking a serious criminal offender off the streets, who undoubtedly was committing and would continue to commit crimes in the area.

These officers demonstrate the true nature of teamwork at MPD.  Congratulations to all the officers in this case!

Second District
Sergeant Donald Phillips (CIO)

As one of the Department’s trained Crisis Intervention Officers (CIOs), Sergeant Donald Phillips has displayed dedication, patience, and reliability in mentoring other CIO-trained personnel at the Second District.  In this role, Sergeant Phillips has also resolved many situations that had the potential to escalate into dangerous interactions by relying on his CIO training to defuse these incidents.

Sergeant Phillips has a keen focus on the team mission which is evident in his work with partnering agencies.  He has improved the overall effectiveness of the Second District by implementing the CIO mission.

Congratulations to Sgt. Phillips.

Third District
Officer Fred Fritts (CIO)

On February 2, 2011, Officer Fred Fritts received an assignment to investigate an attempted suicide in the 1900 block of 13th Street, NW.  Upon arrival at the residence, Officer Fritts found a young woman who had slashed her wrist and taken 30 Ibuprofen pills (600mg).

Officer Fritts’ Crisis Intervention Officer (CIO) training gave him the skills he need to immediately assess the situation and render help.  He quickly notified the DC Fire and EMS to assist with the young woman’s injuries. She was transported to Washington Hospital Center (WHC) for successful treatment.

Officer Fritts should be commended for his quick actions in this case.

Fourth District
Officer Jesse Langford (CIO)

Since being assigned to the Fourth District in 2009, Officer Jesse Langford has responded to many mental health consumer calls for service.  Prior to arriving on the scene for calls, Officer Langford often takes the initiative and asks the dispatcher for more information as it pertains to the mental health consumer calls.  Although he is a new officer, Officer Langford has the ability to connect, communicate, and resolve the issues of those who may suffer from mental disorders.  On scenes, he is mature, emotionally stable, and has excellent communication skills.  He is very compassionate, sensitive, and patient; attributes he possessed even prior to becoming a Certified Crisis Intervention Officer (CIO).

Since certification, Officer Langford has enhanced his natural abilities as he provides service to the Fourth District community.  He has received numerous letters and commendations for his outstanding service.  One incident in particular is most noteworthy.

In December 2010, Officer Langford responded to a call for a military person suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  This caller had threatened to kill himself and others using an automatic weapon he had in his possession.  Courageously, Officer Langford approached the caller, spoke with him, and as a result of his CIO training, was able to disarm the caller and place him under arrest without tragedy. 

On a day-to-day basis, Officer Langford provides excellent police service. He is willing to respond to calls, transport prisoners to area hospitals and the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP) and provide leadership and encouragement to others as it pertains to the CIO program.  As such, Officer Langford should be highly commended for his willingness and commitment to the public and the members of this department.

Fifth District
MPO Robert Scippio (CIO)

During his tenure as a Crisis Intervention Officer (CIO), MPO Robert Scippio has encountered 29 adult mental health consumers that he had to transport to the Comprehensive Psychiatric Emergency Program (CPEP).  He also transported two juveniles to the Psychiatric Institute of Washington (PIW).  MPO Scippio has also helped 12 additional mental health consumers voluntarily get assistance on their own.

On October 1, 2010, MPO Scippio responded to the 1400 block of Orren Street, NE, in reference to a number of telephone calls by an individual to the Office of the Chief of Police.  MPO Scippio interviewed the individual who informed MPO Scippio that he felt fearful about his surroundings and believed that he needed to protect himself and his family.  He insisted on seeing Chief Cathy Lanier because he stated that she was the only one that could help him. 
MPO Scippio questioned the individual to determine whether he may have been suffering from a mental health disorder.  MPO Scippio stated that the individual was not under any medication and was not mentally ill, but he had started feeling depressed.  The gentleman informed MPO Scippio that he was having a nervous breakdown and that he needed help, but did not know how to ask. MPO Scippio was then able to refer the man to some of the nearest mental health facilities.  MPO Scippio informed him that he would come back on a later date to check on him. 

On October 7, 2010, MPO Scippio conducted a follow-up with the mental health consumer to check on his welfare and to see if he had gone to any of the referral sites, which he had.  MPO Scippio stated that the mental health consumer was shocked to see him there and the gentleman stated that most police officers would not care or get involved. The consumer informed MPO Scippio that if it had not been for the patience that he had towards him and the referral sites that he had given him, he would have done something bad that may have led to him going to jail.

The success of this police action is a great example of what can be accomplished with crisis intervention training and dedication to duty.  MPO Scippio's actions were directly responsible for the successful conclusion of this incident and the efforts displayed by MPO Scippio should not go unheralded.  

Sixth District
Officer Stephan Bigelow (CIO)
Officer Timothy McKenna (CIO)

Officer Stephan Bigelow and Officer Timothy McKenna are standouts as Crisis Intervention Officers (CIO) at the Sixth District.  They are inspirations and work tirelessly to help meet the needs of the mental health consumers in the community.

In one instance, Officers Bigelow and McKenna worked very hard to de-escalate a very deadly situation in which a male adult mental health consumer would come to the Police Station and cut himself with a knife on an almost weekly basis.  Officer McKenna and Officer Bigelow attended CIO training and decided to attempt to speak to the consumer to try and find the cause of his destructive nature.  Officer Bigelow made first contact and explained that they wanted to try and help him resolve his issues.  The male consumer finally explained the reason for cutting himself and expressed frustration at the lack of treatment he was receiving from some other agencies.  The officers agreed to work with him to address his issues and concerns.

Through Officer McKenna’s and Officer Bigelow’s time and effort, they partnered with CPEP, Community Connections, and other various agencies to meet the consumer’s needs and goals.  The male consumer has not cut himself at the 6th District Police Station in the past eight months.  He is working towards becoming a certified addiction counselor, and is already an unpublished but accomplished poet.  Through the hard work of Officer McKenna and Officer Bigelow, they were able to assist this gentleman with his needs as well as develop a working relationship with the various agencies within the Mental Health Community.

Seventh District
Officer Tonia Jones (CIO)

Officer Tonia Jones has been assigned as a Crisis Intervention Officers (CIO) officer since February of 2010.  Since receiving this training, Officer Jones has been instrumental in utilizing her knowledge when responding to potentially critical and volatile scenes and further managing to resolve these matters without any reports of scenes escalating or injuries to those involved.  Because of her tact and professionalism, she has been called upon numerous times for assistance by her colleagues when they find that they are in need of assistance of a CIO officer.

One such example occurred during a response to an address in the 600 block of Galveston Place, SE where a young teenage girl wanted to commit suicide by cutting her wrists.  After arriving on the scene and talking with the despondent child, Officer Jones was able to convince her that there was hope and motivated the young child to seek the treatment that she needed.  Additionally, Officer Jones spoke with the child’s mother and let her know that all was not lost, and that by getting this early intervention, things could work out for the whole family.

Officer Jones has taken advantage of the skills she has obtained as a CIO officer and applied it to other facets of her work.  One of the most prevalent examples is the value that she has brought to the Emergency Response Team (ERT) as a back-up negotiator.  In this capacity, she has also been called upon several times to serve as either the lead negotiator or coach and has assisted the unit in resolving several critical scenes with subjects who are known to be armed and dangerous.

Congratulations to Officer Jones.

School Safety Division

Officer Charles Brevard

Officer Charles Brevard is assigned to the Seventh District as a School Resource Officer.  He has been a member of the department for over twenty years and most of those years he has dealt with kids in crisis.  While not a trained Crisis Intervention Officer, he has significant experience with youth that need assistance everyday.  Many of the students that attend the high school where he works are facing daily crises in their home, and as a result they bring the crises to school.  Oftentimes it is left up to the school and members in the school to address the child’s social needs.

Officer Brevard has become involved in these children’s lives because he has seen the tragic end results when help is not provided.  He has implemented a program called Operation SAVE, an interactive presentation that deals with early intervention.  The program goals of Operation SAVE are getting students involved, removing and keeping illegal drugs and weapons out of schools, and deterring school violence through responsible behavior; the target audience is comprised of students in junior high school.

During the presentations, Officer Brevard discusses choices, peer pressure, and consequences.  The students learn how to ask for help and stresses the message that no such thing as a ‘snitch.’  The children are shown news articles about violence in schools and have conversations about peer pressure and how to avoid it.  Towards the end of the presentation, Officer Brevard displays a large case that has various guns, knives, drugs, and other weapons.  He tells the students that the items were all recovered from school, which brings home the point.  The presentation may not solve all the problems, but it opens the door to communication – communication that is used to foster trust and enable positive reinforcement.

Officer Brevard continues his work with the kids in the summertime as a camp counselor at Camp Brown. He constantly works with the youth in attempting to avert future crisis.  By intervening early and often, future problems are averted because we know that most of the crises that develop later in life are caused because of lack of guidance.  Officer Brevard has developed a wonderful rapport with his students and they rely on his guidance.  Through his efforts he has made a difference both directly and indirectly on the lives of thousands of children.