HARRISBURG, Pa., June 9, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Pennsylvania State Police Commissioner Tyree C. Blocker presented the department's highest awards to troopers and civilian employees today during a ceremony at the State Police Academy in Hershey.
"Today is a celebration of the exemplary actions and significant achievements of some very special individuals," said Commissioner Blocker. "The award recipients truly exemplify the commitment to service that is the cornerstone of the Pennsylvania State Police and it is my privilege to recognize their accomplishments."
The department's Medal of Honor was presented to Trooper Jonathan Bailey, Troop N, Fern Ridge, in recognition of personal bravery and commitment to duty despite the risk of serious bodily injury. On July 27, 2016, Trooper Bailey was on patrol when he heard a dispatch for a residential fire in Penn Forest Township, Carbon County. He arrived to the scene before fire and rescue crews and risked his life by entering the home to rescue a 69-year-old woman trapped inside. Fighting the thick, black smoke, Trooper Bailey entered the home several times before finding the woman and helping her to safety. He was treated at a local hospital for smoke inhalation and returned to finish his shift.
The State Police Purple Heart was presented to Trooper Patrick Casey, Troop K, Philadelphia. On November 24, 2015, Trooper Casey was shot in the left shoulder by a suspect at the conclusion a vehicle pursuit. Despite his injury, Trooper Casey was able to return fire and seek cover. Trooper Timothy Jeter and Trooper William Evans, III, received Commissioner's Letters of Commendation for their actions during the pursuit and the measures taken to ensure Trooper Casey received prompt medical attention for his injuries.
Trooper Kevin Holford, Troop T, Newville, was recognized as Trooper of the Year for his actions on March 20, 2016, when Clarence Briggs shot and killed two turnpike workers in an attempted robbery at toll a plaza in Fulton County. Among the first troopers to arrive at the scene, Holford confronted Briggs and eventually shot and fatally wounded him when Briggs began to once again ready his weapon. Trooper Holford's quick and decisive actions prevented further loss of life and injury. Trooper Holford also received a Commissioner's Letter of Commendation.
Liquor Enforcement Officer Harry Royer was named Liquor Enforcement Officer of the Year for his 30 years of dedicated service to the Bureau of Liquor Control Enforcement. Not only is LEO Royer an exemplary officer, he also serves as a valuable resource – always willing to share his knowledge and experience with others.
Tamara Mason of Troop C, Kane received the Police Communications Officer of the Year Award. A life-long resident of McKean County, PCO Mason played a key role in the successful outcome in the search for a missing, suicidal woman.
Marcy Benner, a Clerk Typist II at Troop F, Milton, was recognized as Employee of the Year. Benner has worked with the state police for more than 20 years, regularly assuming tasks outside of her own job description to help the station serve the public. Benner has been involved with the Susquehanna Valley Camp Cadet program since its inception, volunteering her time at fundraisers that support the camp. Passionate about dogs, she also donates time to multiple animal welfare organizations.
Receiving State Police Commendation Medals, in recognition of their actions immediately following the homicide of Trooper Landon Weaver on December 30, 2016, were Sergeant Timothy Cummings, Troop G, McConnellsburg; Corporal Michael Davis, Troop G, Huntingdon; Corporal Jared Hartsock, Troop G, Lewistown; Trooper Joseph Fay, Troop G, Huntingdon; and Trooper Ryan Speece, Troop G, Huntingdon. This group was the first to arrive at the home where Trooper Weaver was shot. Together, they developed and executed a plan to retrieve Trooper Weaver from the home and transport him to an ambulance at the assembly point.
Sergeant Zigmund Jendrzejewski, Corporal Frederick Chadwick, Corporal Cory Despot, Corporal Warren Rhyner, Trooper Gregory Bacher, Jr., Trooper Joseph Dunsmore, Trooper Michael Ehgartner, Trooper Adam Kline, Trooper Dana Martini, Trooper William Wagner, Trooper Timothy Wesesky, and Trooper Christopher Wilson received Commissioner's Letters of Commendation for their work to bring Trooper Weaver's killer to justice on December 31, 2016.
Also receiving Commissioner's Letters of Commendation were:
- Corporal Frank Konek, Jr., Trooper Justin Duval, and Trooper Frederick Gregg, for their investigation into one of the largest drug trafficking organizations in southwestern Pennsylvania that resulted in several arrests and the seizure of multiple kilograms of heroin and cocaine, $1.5 million in cash, 34 firearms, and multiple vehicles.
- Trooper Javier Garcia for his two-year investigation into an international drug trafficking organization.
- Trooper Gregory Strayer, for his actions during the March 20, 2016 robbery at the Fort Littleton Turnpike Interchange that resulted in the deaths of two turnpike workers.
The Commissioner's Area Command Significant Achievement Awards are presented to a group of individuals within each area command for a substantial accomplishment that clearly distinguishes them and/or their respective area and enhances the prestige of the department.
The Area I recipients were members of Troops C, D, and E, and the Bureau of Criminal Investigation. Together, they identified, investigated, and stopped a large-scale commercial burglary ring that operated throughout western Pennsylvania.
The Area II recipients were members of the Troop G Major Case Team, who were recognized for their investigation into the death of Ronald Bettis. Through their efforts, what could have been dismissed as a suicide was thoroughly investigated, leading to the full confessions of those responsible.
The Area III recipients were members of Troop F, Mountoursville and Troop P, Wyoming. Their investigation solved the homicide of Michelle Inch. Faced with the overwhelming evidence against him, the actor entered a guilty plea and was sentenced to life in prison.
The Area IV recipients were members of Troop L, Reading, for their investigation into a methamphetamine trafficking organization in Schuylkill County. As a result of their efforts, 13 search warrants were executed, leading to the seizure of 9.25 pounds of methamphetamine, 72 firearms, nine pipe bombs, and more than $100,000 cash.
For more information about the Pennsylvania State Police, visit www.psp.pa.gov.
MEDIA CONTACTS: Cpl. Adam Reed or Ryan Tarkowski, 717-783-5556
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SOURCE Pennsylvania State Police