VOICES: Honoring those who serve and protect

Though there is debate across the country regarding policing in our communities, I think nearly anyone would agree that police work is difficult and dangerous. On any given day, officers face enormous stress and pressure, knowing that even a simple car-stop or house call can escalate. Here in Dayton, I am very proud of the work and meaningful impact police are having in our community.

In April, I attended an awards ceremony that honored Dayton officers who are the embodiment of the profession and demonstrate the level of service we have come to expect. I’ll offer a few examples.

Officer Kenneth Webster was awarded the Distinguished Service Award for his actions on January 28, 2022. On that day, Officer Webster responded to a report of a man holding a knife to a woman and threatening her life. When he arrived, and without hesitation or back-up, Officer Webster ran into the house, disarmed the suspect, and saved the woman’s life.

Last fall, Sergeant Philip Watts, Officers John Griffin, Katherine Brooks, John Short III, Mitchell Schwab, Matthew Knox, Kevin Johnson, Byron Branch, and Madeline Ambrose responded to a weapons complaint. When they arrived, the suspect was holding a mother and child against their will and threatening their lives. The officers’ quick and decisive actions in conducting a hostage rescue resulted in both the mother and child being released unharmed.

There were many other examples of officers using their training and skills to help de-escalate people in an emotional state. Such an example was Officer Christopher White, who was recognized for his work with a suicidal male. Officer White used his skills to communicate with the man and eventually got him to surrender without any force being used. The man had several knives on him and was transported to the hospital for mental health evaluation.

Gun violence in schools has become a tragic and frequent occurrence across the country. So, last September when Officer Daniel Perry was dispatched to Liberty High School (a charter school in Dayton) in reference to a former student on the property, he was both cautious and decisive. He learned on arrival that the suspect had two arrest warrants. Once the school was placed in lockdown, Officer Perry approached the former student, who immediately tried to escape and resist arrest. Despite this, Officer Perry was able to subdue the suspect and place him in handcuffs. Inside his fanny pack was a loaded handgun, a baggie of heroin, and 53 rounds of ammunition. The officer’s quick response and decision prevented a potential tragedy at the school.

The Dayton Police Department has worked hard to improve engagement with residents and has been thoroughly engaged in Dayton’s police reform efforts since 2020. This work can clearly be observed through the work of Officer Ronald Strehle. For the last 13 years of his 28 years of service, he has served as a Crime Prevention and/or Community Engagement Officer and is currently assigned to the West District. Last year, Officer Strehle attended an astounding 184 community events, and he publishes a very informative weekly email newsletter.

Finally, I want to highlight the work of the Major Case Unit. The Unit participates in investigations throughout the Miami Valley, working with both local and federal agencies. In 2022, they recovered $235,000 dollars in currency along with 45 guns, more than 9,600 grams of methamphetamine and 53,000 grams of THC/marijuana, as well as numerous other drugs.

I wish I had enough space to highlight all the officers recognized for their exemplary work and ongoing commitment to serve and protect the residents of Dayton. For a listing of all the award recipients, please visit daytonohio.gov/PoliceAwards.

Shelley Dickstein is the Dayton City Manager.

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