By Chris Hendrickson, Monroe Monitor
Three Monroe Police Officers were honored this week at city hall during the department’s 2013 awards ceremony. Monroe Police Chief Tim Quenzer and Deputy Chief Ken Ginnard facilitated the proceedings.
Officer Nathan Erdmann, who has been with the department for 14 years, received a Distinguished Service award, along with Officer Scott Kornish, who has been with the department since 2006. Both Officer Erdmann and Kornish serve on the ProAct Team; a three member team which is led by Sgt. Ryan Irving.
The ProAct Team focuses on inhibiting criminal activity through proactively developing comprehensive methodologies used to aid in the reduction of crime committed by repeat offenders. Rather than responding to 911 calls, the team works on investigating and pursuing strategies to reduce criminal activity throughout East Snohomish County. In 2013, the ProAct Team wrote over 45 search warrants.
The ProAct Team has been responsible for numerous felony arrests, plus the seizure of both illegal narcotics and firearms.
Chief Quenzer presented each of the officers with an award to commemorate the honor.
Sgt. Rick Dunn, who just celebrated 20 years with the department in October, was awarded the Medal of Courage, one of the department’s highest honors. Sgt. Dunn was recognized for an incident that occurred last summer, in which he rescued an individual who was in the midst of attempting suicide.
The department aired a video for council to watch, in which Sgt. Dunn himself described the incident.
It was June 24, 2013, and a woman had called in to the police department because she was worried about her roommate. She explained to the police that he had been going through a hard time, was very despondent, and she was concerned that he might try and hurt himself. Sgt. Dunn responded to the call and asked the woman if she had any idea where her roommate might go. The woman indicated that he had been receiving treatment for an injury to his ankle at Valley General Hospital and thought that perhaps he was somewhere in that vicinity.
“It wasn’t anything definitive,” said Dunn.
He proceeded to the area which the woman had referenced, and once he pulled off U.S. 2 onto 179th Avenue, he saw the man immediately. He was seated on a railroad timber, on the ground, right on the tracks. Dunn explained that he carefully approached the man, letting him know that he just wanted to have a conversation with him.
“And so I started talking to him. I kind of kept my distance,” said Dunn. “But I talked to him and said ‘I know that something’s going on; I know that something’s bothering you. I just want to help you.’”
Dunn explained that right about that time, he heard the crossing arm signals began to sound their warning that a train was coming. The crossing arm was feet from where he stood.
“I didn’t really have a plan,” said Dunn. “The last time I remember looking up at the train it was about maybe 40 yards away.”
In a spur of the moment decision, Dunn threw himself at the depressed man, using the force of his body to shove him out of the way of the oncoming train. They both ended up falling, rolling down a gravel area alongside the railroad tracks. He remembered the train going by before they’d even come to rest.
“It wasn’t graceful or anything,” said Dunn. “I heard the whistle and it was right on top of us.”
Sgt. Dunn was commended for his heroic acts that day, and given the Medal of Courage by Chief Quenzer. He received a standing ovation from several members of the police department, the audience, the mayor and city council.
Dunn asked if he could voice his gratitude to a few other individuals who helped out on the day of the incident.
He also provided an update on the man who had been on the tracks that day.
“For the sake of this, I’ll call the gentleman Ben; he’s somebody from our community,” said Dunn.
He shared that, after the incident, the man sought medical attention and was treated for his depression.
“He still lives in the community and he’s doing a lot better,” said Dunn.
He then expressed gratitude to the man’s roommate for calling it in initially. He also thanked another woman named Roberta Stanley who called 911 after seeing an alarming Facebook post from the man, and a passing motorist known only as Jody, who called 911 after seeing the man on the railroad tracks. Next, he thanked the SNOPAC 911 dispatchers for their excellent level of service.
Finally, Sgt. Dunn thanked Chief Quenzer and Deputy Chief Ginnard for the recognition.
“I’m very honored,” said Dunn.