Lebanon police officer awarded Medal of Valor

For actions taken during summer hostage standoff, rescue

A Lebanon police officer was honored Dec. 13 for his actions during a hostage standoff incident last summer at a Mason hotel.

Officer Dan Fry was awarded the second-highest award of the Lebanon Division of Police, the Medal of Valor, during the Dec. 13 meeting of Lebanon City Council.

“While acting in his assigned capacity during the callout, Officer Dan Fry distinguished himself and the Lebanon Division of Police with extraordinary bravery and heroism during a hostage rescue operation with an armed suspect,” said Police Chief Jeff Mitchell.

Mitchell said the Medal of Valor is awarded to a division employee who distinguishes themselves with extraordinary acts of bravery or heroism above and beyond the call of duty. The act by its nature could result in serious bodily harm to them.

Fry, a school resource officer and a member of the Warren County Tactical Response Unit, was called out July 11 to the Baymont Inn on Water Park Drive where Hamilton County Sheriff’s detectives were attempting to serve warrants for the arrest of escapee from a Cincinnati detention facility.

The suspect, Thomas Cromwell, held a woman at knifepoint during the 12-hour hostage standoff in which he made statements that led police to believe her life was in danger. The detectives then contacted Mason police and the county Tactical Response Unit when Cromwell refused to cooperate. Cromwell was killed by a single gunshot wound and when he died, the knife he’d been allegedly using to hold the woman hostage was found next to his body.

During the incident, Fry took position as a primary explosive breacher and was tasked with building an interior charge large enough to breach a wall and give access to an adjacent room where the hostage was being held in a barricaded room, Mitchell said. He said Fry, through expert planning and execution, displayed a level of professionalism above and beyond expectation while building, preparing, placing, and detonating the explosive charge.

Mitchell said due to the layout of the building and safer options unavailable to the team because of the barricade made by the suspect, the explosive charge was placed inside a room which exposed Fry to potential over pressure from the blast. The decision to detonate this charge was the only option to successfully make entry into the hotel room and save the hostage, Mitchell said.

“This decision, by its extremely dangerous nature, could have resulted in serious physical harm to himself and he made the decision to move forward and perform his duties regardless of the obvious dangers. Additionally, by the successful breach of the wall, this exposed Officer Fry directly to the armed suspect,” Mitchell said.

During the course of the incident, the suspect made multiple threats to kill the first officers he saw and promised to kill the first officer to enter the room, Mitchell said.

“In law enforcement, hostage rescue is a “no fail” mission,” Mitchell said. “The actions and decisions made by law enforcement are dictated by the suspect alone. Committed to our goal of protecting lives, the result of this callout confirms Officer Fry understood and acted based on his training and dedication to duty without hesitation.”

On Oct. 18, following an investigation by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, Warren County Prosecutor David Fornshell said the application of deadly force against Cromwell was objectively reasonable under the circumstances, and would not be presented to a grand jury.

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