Community & Public Affairs Section : Media Releases | Media Spokespersons | Published Freedom of Information Requests | Journalism Students

2009 COMMENDATION CEREMONY

EXPLANATION OF AWARDS
 

CERTIFICATE OF MERIT
 
Is awarded to citizens, by the Vancouver Police Board when, on their own initiative and in the face of actual or anticipated danger, they have assisted the police in preventing a crime, apprehending or attempting to apprehend an offender or made a life saving attempt.
 
CHIEF CONSTABLE'S COMMENDATION
The Vancouver Police Department's Commendations can be awarded to police officers and civilian staff who: demonstrate over the course of a single investigation, operation, or incident skill, judgement, dedication or integrity in the performance of duty; or for demonstrating the highest standards of police conduct or humanitarianism in a single operation, incident or investigation; or for diligent and sustained effort in the performance of duties; or for developing a method or program that has a positive effect on the operation of the Department.
 
 
 
CHIEF CONSTABLE UNIT CITATIONS
A unit is defined as two or more members, police and/or civilian, working together. Members of a unit are eligible for a Unit Citation:
For diligent and sustained effort in the performance of duties well above that which is normally expected; or
For an outstanding performance in relation to a single investigation, operation or incident; or
For developing a method or program that significantly affects the operation of one or more divisions in the Department.
 
CHIEF CONSTABLE'S AWARD OF VALOUR
 
The Chief Constable's award of valour is awarded to police officers:

For demonstrating the most conspicuous act of bravery in extremely hazardous circumstances.
For a daring or pre-eminent act of valour, self-sacrifice or exceptional devotion to duty in the presence of grave danger.
For purposely taking action for the benefit of others while knowing that, in doing so, they placed themselves at substantial risk of death or serious injury.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
AWARDS
  
 
CERTIFICATES OF MERIT
 
 
MAGGIE STEWART
 
The courageous among us are not always immediately apparent. Sometimes courage wears the obvious uniform of a police officer or firefighter. But sometimes, it's a seventeen year old girl riding on the bus.
 
One afternoon in December 2007, Maggie Stewart was waiting for the bus as she did most days for her ride home from school. She had no idea that this day would be different, a day that would put her courage to the test. 
 
There at the bus stop, a student she knew only from her daily commute was being beaten by two older students. One punched him in the head repeatedly while the other stomped on his back. A group of about 25 other students stood idly by and watched, but did nothing. Maggie, with no concern for her personal safety, rushed into the fray. She held onto the arm of one attacker and yelled for them both to stop. Her selfless and quick action put an end to the assault and saved this familiar stranger from further harm.
 
She then ensured his safety by helping him on to the bus that had arrived and later reporting the incident to her school and providing police with an articulate statement and description that helped them make the arrests.
 
For outstanding courage and compassion, Maggie Stewart is awarded the Vancouver Police Board's highest award for civilian bravery, the Certificate of Merit.
 
 
 
TANYA SILVEIRA
 
The job of a shopping mall security guard can be described as seemingly endless hours of boredom interrupted occasionally by heart-stopping panic. At least that's the way it was for Tanya Silveira on November 8, 2007, when she was smashed in the face by a jewellery thief desperate to escape.
 
Ms. Silveira was running to a robbery call in the mall when she saw two men hurrying away. She called for them to stop while a store employee jumped one of the men. When mall patrons joined the fray, a loaded gun fell onto the floor. One of the pair broke away and tried to flee.  Ms. Silveira grabbed him, not knowing if he was armed as well.
 
He punched her repeatedly in the face and broke free. She didn't give up, but chased him into the parking garage where he tried to car-jack a terrified woman and her child.  As he clung to the wildly swerving car she braced herself and slammed her shoulder into him, dropping him to the ground. He ran and escaped by stealing a car from an older man he threatened.
 
Ms. Silveira refused treatment for her injuries so she could continue helping the police. The man was later arrested and charged.
 
For outstanding courage, and quick and selfless action that put her own life at risk to safeguard others, Tanya Silveira is awarded the Vancouver Police Board's highest award for civilian bravery, the Certificate of Merit.
 
 
 
JONATHAN HELMUS
 
What would prompt a man to leave the comfort of his apartment at one o'clock in the morning and crawl over the edge of his balcony 19 stories above the ground to attempt to save the life of distraught and possibly suicidal woman?
 
You would have to ask Jonathan Helmus, because that's exactly what he did on the night of September 14, 2008, when he realized what was happening.
 
Police had received numerous calls of a woman hanging off the edge of a balcony. She had apparently been involved in a physical domestic dispute. Police set up an observation point across from the building and attempted to get access to the suite. That's when police observers saw Mr. Helmus crawling over his balcony on his way to rescue the woman.
 
When the woman saw her neighbour, she rethought her situation and climbed back onto her own balcony. It is believed that without the actions of Mr. Helmus she may have fallen.
 
For his selfless act of courage, Jonathan Helmus is awarded the Vancouver Police Board's Certificate of Merit.
 
 
CHARLES GORLING
JAMES THORP
 
If a crime was committed in front of you, how far would you be willing to go to help the victim?
 
On a summer afternoon in 2008, while walking along a downtown street, Charles Gorling and James Thorp didn't have time to ask themselves that question - they just responded quickly and decisively.
 
They saw a disabled man trying to run after another man. The older disabled man was shouting that he had been robbed and his wallet had been stolen.  Mr. Gorling went to his aid, while Mr. Thorp took off in hot pursuit of the robber.  He caught the man and brought him back to where he and Mr. Gorling could hold him until the police arrived.
 
Another witness on the block, Chris Monkiewicz, had seen the commotion and joined the group. His assistance proved crucial when the robber tried to break away.
 
The victim was a retired engineer who suffers from Hodgkin's disease.
 
Because of the selfless actions of these three good Samaritans, the victim recovered his belongings; the robber was arrested and given an order to stay out of the victim's neighbourhood.
 
Charles Gorling, James Thorp and Chris Monkiewicz are awarded the Vancouver Police Board's Certificate of Merit.
 
 
MARC NOLET
YIANNIS VOULGARIS
 
While the job of security guard doesn't always carry the prestige and appreciation afforded police officers, their role is sometimes just as crucial when it comes to catching criminals.
 
For security guards Marc Nolet and Yiannis Voulgaris, that role kicked in at three o'clock in the morning October 12, 2008.  From their company car, the guards saw two men assaulting a third in a downtown intersection. One of the men said he had a gun. When police responded to the guards' call they saw three men trying to get away. They stopped two, but the third broke and ran.
 
An officer chased him on foot, but was not able to keep up. He had no way of knowing that he was chasing a professional football player. Meanwhile, the guards kept the man in sight from their vehicle and saw him throw away what was later discovered to be a .32 calibre pistol. Once he had ditched the weapon he stopped running.
 
Mr. Voulgaris ran from his car and tackled him. The police officer had caught up by this time and with the help of both guards arrested the man.
 
For their outstanding work in assisting in the apprehension of a suspect and the recovery of a firearm, Marc Nolet and Yiannis Voulgaris are awarded the Vancouver Police Board's Certificate of Merit.
UNIT CITATIONS
 
 
CONSTABLE CARRIE O'DWYER
CONSTABLE WAYNE THOMPSON
CONSTABLE NICK BELL
CONSTABLE BRIAN LEQUESNE
 
A police officer doesn't have to be long out of the academy before he concludes that there is no such thing as a routine call. Any call can become a major incident in an instant and officers can quickly find themselves risking their own lives to save the lives of others.
 
Just after 8 p.m. in the evening of October 25th, 2008, a man called 911 saying that someone had slashed his throat, and then he hung up. The first two officers to arrive were Constables Wayne Thompson and Nick Bell.  They found more than they had expected. There had been an explosion on the fifth floor of the building, the fire alarm was going off and people were running out.
 
Without thought for their own safety they entered the building to search for the slashing victim and help others evacuate.  The next two officers to arrive were Constables Brian Lequesne and Carrie O'Dwyer. Constable O'Dwyer stayed on the first floor making sure everyone got out, while the other three officers fought their way through thick smoke to find the victim they believed was in suite 508.
 
They pounded on the door, but got no response. But as they prepared to break in, the door opened and out came a man confused and in shock. In addition to having his throat slashed he had third degree burns to most of his body. They got him out of the building and into an ambulance just as he went into severe shock.  It is unlikely he would have survived the smoke or found his way out by himself.
 
Because of the decisive and selfless actions of these four officers and their conspicuous acts of bravery in an extremely hazardous situation, a badly injured man survived and all the residents of the burning building were evacuated safely.  Constables Carrie O'Dwyer, Wayne Thompson, Nick Bell and Brian Lequesne are awarded the Chief Constable's Commendation.
 
 
CONSTABLE DOUGLAS BROWN
CONSTABLE DAVOR TOLJA
CONSTABLE EUGENE FUNG
CONSTABLE ALEX NG
 
When Constables Douglas Brown and Davor Tolja were on routine patrol along Davie Street near Thurlow on a Friday afternoon in July 2008, the last thing they expected to hear was gunfire. But 50 metres away from them a drug deal had gone bad, a shot had been fired, a man lay bleeding on the ground crying in pain, and people were scrambling and screaming in all directions.
 
When they arrived at the scene they saw a man running away and they immediately gave chase. They broadcast an accurate description, but lost sight of him. In case he was planning to return to finish off his victim, they doubled back.
 
Constables Eugene Fung and Alex Ng heard the broadcast and spotted the man in the crowd. Taking cover behind their vehicle, they ordered the man at gunpoint to get down. They took him safely into custody and found a loaded handgun in his waistband.
 
The quick and decisive actions of these four officers demonstrated outstanding skill, judgement and bravery. Constables Douglas Brown, Davor Tolja, Eugene Fung and Alex Ng are awarded the Chief Constable's Unit Citation.
SERGEANT RON FAIRWEATHER
ACTING SERGEANT MARK FORSHAW
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE HENRY WOLF
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE BRYCE SCHINDEL
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE GREG RALLA
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE CAL TRAVERSY
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE RAY PAYETTE
MS. EMER FITZGERALD
 
Few things strike more terror in the heart of a parent than to learn their child is missing.  While the majority of missing children are usually runaways, the sad reality is thousands of children and adults in Vancouver go missing every year.
 
The good news is that no police department in Canada has a better record of finding missing persons than the Missing Persons Unit of the Vancouver Police.
 
It wasn't always that way. In that past two and half years, the unit has been transformed into one of the most highly efficient and responsive missing persons units in the country. Following an audit conducted in 2004, major changes were implemented, including 50 recommendations.
 
By 2005, missing person reports had been reduced by 30 per cent. In 2006, 4,004 people were reported missing. The unit found every one of them. In 2007, another 2,893 people went missing and once again the unit had a 100 per cent success rate.
 
For this outstanding accomplishment, the men and women of the Missing Persons Unit, including Sergeant Ron Fairweather, Acting Sergeant Mark Forshaw, Detective Constables Henry Wolf, Bryce Schindel, Greg Ralla, Cal Traversy, Raymond Payette and Ms. Emer Fitzgerald, are awarded the Chief Constable's Unit Citation.
 
 
CONSTABLE LAWRENCE CARLSON
CONSTABLE GRAHAM MCDONALD
CONSTABLE LINDA STEWART
CONSTABLE MARCO VERONESI
CONSTABLE JAMES FLEWELLING
CONSTABLE FRANCIS AQUINO
CONSTABLE JUSTIN LEUNG
CONSTABLE SHAWN HARDMAN
CONSTABLE WARREN TUTKALUKE
CONSTABLE JOHN CRAWFORD
CONSTABLE TONY BLOUIN
CONSTABLE KYLE FURNESS
ACTING SERGEANT JASON HIGH
SERGEANT STEVE EELY
INSPECTOR BOB CHAPMAN
INSPECTOR DARYL WIEBE
 
The sun was directly overhead and the temperature was climbing past 30 degrees Celsius on a sunny Canada Day in 2008. Traffic was heavy on the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge. At first glance it seemed like a normal summer day, but before the afternoon was out a group of police officers would risk everything, a city would be divided in anger, and a life would hang in the balance.
 
Just past noon, police saw a woman who was visibly distraught standing on the sidewalk mid-span on the bridge. When they approached her, she climbed over the railing. She perched precariously on three parallel cables, reaching up and behind her to hold on with one free hand. There was nothing beneath her. If she released her grip, she would fall to her certain death. Negotiators were called in, along with members of the Emergency Response Team, the Marine Squad and the Coast Guard.
 
Traffic was halted in both directions. This reduced the risk of the woman being dislodged by vibrations on the bridge deck and allowed negotiators to hear her voice without the roar of traffic. Constables Lawrence Carlson, Linda Stewart and Graham MacDonald continued to talk to the woman for more than five hours in the stifling heat, while hundreds of motorists fumed. As the day wore on, the woman refused offers of water and concern grew that she would simply fall from exhaustion. As the woman became increasingly despondent, the negotiators knew that time was running out. While Constable Carlson distracted her, Constable MacDonald reached through the railing and grabbed her arm. Emergency Response members rushed in, anchored themselves to their vehicle, and went over the railing to assist and pull her to safety.
 
While a life was saved that day, the rescue would prove to be a controversial one, with city residents divided in the ensuing debate over whether the bridge closure was necessary. There was no debate among the grateful friends and relatives of the woman who was taken safely to hospital that day.
 
For outstanding bravery and professionalism, the following members are awarded the Chief Constable's Unit Citation: Constables Lawrence Carlson, Graham MacDonald, Linda Stewart, Marco Veronesi, James Flewelling, Francis Aquino, Justin Leung, Shawn Hardman, Warren Tutkaluke, John Crawford, Tony Blouin, Kyle Furness, Acting Sergeant Jason High, Sergeant Steve Eely, and Inspectors Bob Chapman and Daryl Wiebe.
 
 
 
CONSTABLE FRED OLDENDORF
MRS. BARB MARTIN
STAFF SERGEANT RALPH PAUW
 
Police officers go through extensive training at many points during their careers, but nothing these officers had ever learned could have left them prepared for what happened in January 2007.
 
Regional Crown Counsels withdrew all administrative and prosecutorial services for provincial ticket violations scheduled for trial at the Robson Square Court complex. It would now be up to the VPD to prosecute offenses under such statutes as the Motor Vehicle, Wildlife and Provincial Firearms Acts.
 
The training challenge was daunting and immediate. A team of officers and civilian member Barb Martin worked on new policies and procedures, while Constable Fred Oldendorf produced a 27-minute high quality training video that will be shared with police agencies across the province.
 
To date more than 238 files have been prosecuted using these new policies, procedures and training information.
 
For their commitment and professionalism, the following members have been awarded the Chief Constable's Unit Citation: Constable Fred Oldendorf, Mrs. Barb Martin and Staff Sergeant Ralph Pauw.
 
 
SERGEANT NEIL GILLESPIE
SERGEANT JOCK WADLEY
CORPORAL ARMANDO PELLIZZARI
CONSTABLE PAUL AUCLAIR
CONSTABLE BARB BLUSCHKE
CONSTABLE BLAIR CANNING
CONSTABLE DAVE HORNE
CONSTABLE STEVE KEMPTON
CONSTABLE GERRY KIRK
CONSTABLE BILL TAYLOR
CONSTABLE JAMIE GIBSON
CONSTABLE RICH JEAN
CONSTABLE SEAN MARTEL
CONSTABLE DAN O'DONOVAN
 
Someone new to Vancouver seeing the pristine beauty of False Creek might never guess that just two years ago the number of boats anchored illegally there had made it an eyesore and a danger to navigation.
 
More than 130 vessels clogged the waterway. Some had been unattended for years; occasionally they sank, causing submerged hazards. Unattended boats regularly dragged anchor, colliding with other boats. The cost of cleanup for taxpayers was substantial.
 
The VPD Marine Squad, working with the City of Vancouver, helped to draft new regulations and enforcement policies. They worked as well with the boat owners, helping them find other moorage. They also brought in housing and social workers to help those boat owners who were poor or suffered from mental illness.
 
Today there are fewer than 20 boats, all moored legally with permits.
 
For their outstanding work and dedication that resolved a long term community issue, the following members of the Marine Squad are awarded the Chief Constable's Unit Citation: Sergeants Neil Gillespie and Jock Wadley, Corporal Armando Pellizzari and Constables Paul Auclair, Barb Bluschke, Blair Canning, Dave Horne, Steve Kempton, Gerry Kirk, Bill Taylor, Jamie Gibson, Rich Jean, Sean Martel and Dan O'Donovan.
 
 
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE STAN CRATCHLEY
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE PETER SADLER
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE GUISEPPE SORBARA
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE DOUG BROWN
DETECTIVE CONSTABLE DON COGHILL
CONSTABLE IAN THURBER
 
When looking down the barrel of a loaded gun, sometimes all an officer can do is pull his own weapon and hope that his finger hits the trigger before the other guy pulls his.
 
It was the situation that faced Detective Constable Stan Cratchley when he and his team tried to arrest a drug dealer in late January 2006 in an underground parking garage on Homer Street.
 
Unknown to the dealer, he had been selling drugs to undercover police for weeks. But when they moved in for the arrest the dealer had other ideas and pulled a loaded semi-automatic handgun. He pointed it directly at the officers and refused to obey their directions. Shots were fired and the dealer suffered several non-life-threatening injuries.
 
For demonstrating sound judgement, exceptional skill and team work, Detective Constables Stan Cratchley, Peter Sadler, Guiseppe Sorbara, Doug Brown, Don Coghill and Constable Ian Thurber are awarded the Chief Constable's Unit Citation.
 
 
SERGEANT KRIS WRATHALL
CONSTABLE AARON KAZUTA
CONSTABLE KAL PENNER
CONSTABLE BRENT DERKSEN
CONSTABLE DAVE VAN PATTEN
CONSTABLE WADE RODRIGUE
CONSTABLE CHRISTIAN GALBRAITH
CONSTABLE JASON FRIESEN
 
A loaded gun, a head full of cocaine and alcohol, and a death wish