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During the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2020, three Johnston Police Officers received letters of commendation to recognize their compassion and commitment to the citizens they serve, and for bringing an individual to safety during a crisis. The officers recognized include; Officers Sam Abell, Shane Mounlavong, and Tony Trejo.
“Each of these officers’ performance is a credit to the department, our community policing, and relationships the officers build within our community,” said Police Chief Dennis McDaniel. “These officers have great pride in their work, and having them on staff certainly has helped build a strong foundation within our department. Being able to continue to build upon relationships during times of crisis says a lot about the officers we have serving and protecting this community.”
On the night of July 3, 2019, the officers took decisive action to prevent the potential death of a youth in crisis who was threatening to jump from the Des Moines River bridge at 66th Avenue. Upon receiving the report, on-duty personnel worked diligently to locate the youth, but not before he made it to the outside barrier fence of the bridge over-hanging the swollen river. Officers Abell and Mounlavong attempted various ways to build rapport with the youth and to keep him engaged in conversation to prevent him from jumping; nonetheless, breakthroughs with this young man were temporary. Their efforts were valiant and, at one moment, included grabbing the subject’s clothing through the fence to keep him from falling.
As additional resources were being directed to the area, Officer Trejo was coming on shift and made aware of the situation. He recognized the youth’s name in crisis from previous calls for service and immediately went to the scene and began to engage the young man in a calm tone. Because of Officer Trejo’s past efforts to build trust and offer kindness and empathy to this young man, the individual was receptive to suggestions of furthering the conversation about his troubles in a safer environment. Public safety officials on-scene then worked collaboratively to successfully intervene without using force to bring the individual back over the fence so medical treatment could be offered.
A safe resolution was brought to a situation that, at times, seemed impossible. It is only through their devotion to duty, attentiveness to another’s welfare, and persistence that levels of recognition such as this are awarded.