Dayton’s top cops: Officers honored for heroic acts, saving lives

About 80 Dayton Police Department officers were honored Thursday for facing danger and taking action to save lives, bust drug dealers and stop violent offenders.

Officer Byron Branch was presented with the Officer of the Year Award at the department's annual award ceremony.

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Also during the event, officer Jason Olson was given the prestigious Steve Whalen Memorial Policing Award for his work to respond to drug overdoses and get drug users into treatment.

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Olson was presented with the Steve Whalen Memorial Policing Award, which is given to officers who serve the community in the same compassionate and stellar ways Whalen did until he was killed in the line of duty.

Olson received multiple nominations, including from a former drug addict who the officer helped revive using Narcan.

Olson met with the drug user in the hospital and said he had a choice to make between jail and treatment. Olson promised to help the user every step of the way as he got treatment.

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In December 2016, Olson became the first addiction resource specialist in the Dayton Police Department, just as the opioid crisis was exploding, said Gay Jordan, chairperson of the Steve Whalen Award Committee.

Olson dedicated himself full-time to responding to overdoses in the city and following up with the OD victims and their loved ones in the hopes of getting them into treatment, Jordan said.

In 2017, Olson and his partner, EMT Amy Dunkin, followed up on more than 600 overdoses and contacted more than 200 people, Jordan said.

Olson and Dunkin successfully got 96 people into treatment, and work to try to connect OD victims and drug users with other resources to get help, officials said.

Emily Surico, staff at East End Community Services, also nominated Olson for the award, saying he makes himself available 24/7 to get into treatment.

He gives out his personal cell phone and always lends a compassionate ear, she said.

Another major honor is the distinguished service award, which is given to officers who demonstrate extraordinary heroism or for acting an exemplary manner beyond the call of duty. Recipients included:

*Officer Robert Christoffers, who last year chased down and stopped a pair of vicious pitbulls from attacking two women working in their yards

*Sgt. Creigee Coleman, who last year helped get residents out of a burning apartment building, at one point carrying a disabled women who couldn't get down the stairs out to safety

*Sgt. Theodore Trupp, who tried to put out a vehicle fire after a crash on I-75 involving a tanker, but then, realizing it was too late, worked to get people stuck on the highway to safety right before the tanker exploded.

Officers who received the police department’s award of merit were Mark Orick, Gary Roesser, Melissa Boyes, Nicholas White, Zachary Williams and Douglas Gresham.

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