Police officers, community leaders honored at awards ceremony

Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs, left, presents a Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Mark Johnson during the Toledo Police Department Awards Ceremony at One Government Center today.
Toledo Police Chief Derrick Diggs, left, presents a Meritorious Service Medal to Officer Mark Johnson during the Toledo Police Department Awards Ceremony at One Government Center today.

Several Toledo police officers and community leaders were honored today at an awards ceremony hosted by the police department.

Mayor Mike Bell said during the annual, hour-long event that residents and officers work in tandem to provide a "two-fold operation to keep our city safe."

Two probation officers, Jodi Alexander and Dawn Kelly, were awarded the Certificate of Appreciation for helping a suicidal woman.

On Sept. 11, a woman called Ms. Alexander saying she was suicidal and had taken pills. The woman would not tell Ms. Alexander where she was, but said she had her children with her.

Ms. Alexander tried, unsuccessfully, to find an address for the woman.

Less than an hour later, the woman called Ms. Alexander again. Ms. Kelly coordinated efforts -- Ms. Alexander speaking to the woman and Ms. Kelly relaying information to police so they could find where the woman was.

PHOTO GALLERY: Toledo Police Department Awards

An officer was eventually able to find the woman and give the address to dispatchers who called for an ambulance.

The Meritorious Public Service Award was given to 10 people for three separate incidents.

Harold Vogt was given that award for helping Toledo police Officer James Below detain a combative suspect. The suspect attempted to steal DVDs worth more than $260 from a video store on Dec. 18.

On. Jan. 31, a man armed with a knife tried to rob Dollar General, 236 New Towne Square, where Amy Sedlock was working. Ms. Sedlock slammed the register closed, not giving up cash, and the suspect started to run. As he fled, he grabbed a purse from Denise Szkatulski. Mrs. Szkatulski's husband, Paul, stopped the suspect and ended up being cut in a fight.

Ms. Sedlock saw Mr. Szkatulski struggling and ran to help; the two were able to hold down the suspect until police arrived.

Police Chief Derrick Diggs presents the Civilian Employee of the Year award to Ethel Perry.
Police Chief Derrick Diggs presents the Civilian Employee of the Year award to Ethel Perry.

The award was given to seven individuals, including a Bryan police officer and a veteran TARTA bus driver for helping a woman who hanged herself from a porch in the 500 block of West Delaware Avenue.

Geraldine Mitchell was driving the bus when she saw what appeared to be a mannequin. But soon, with passengers Jeffery Eskridge and Jamika Tucker, realized that it was a woman.

The three ran to help and were met at the porch by Christopher Harris, Larry Malone, and Doug Stone.

As the six worked to free the woman, they were joined by Corey Bush, an off-duty Bryan, Ohio, police officer who was leaving the Rosary Cathedral.

Ms. Mitchell and Mr. Harris stayed with the woman while others went to inspect the house where they found an unconscious man in an upstairs room. The two were taken to Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center where they were treated.

Numerous police officers were recognized.

Detective Alexander Schaller and Officer Robert Tyburski were given a letter of recognition for responding to a house fire at 3801 Ben Lomond Ct. on June 8. Neighbors said the resident, Becky James, and her dog, might still be inside the house. The officers went around the back of the house -- fire crews were out front -- and they saw Mrs. James' shoulder pressed against a glass door.

Officer Schaller broke the door and the two were able to carry Mrs. James to waiting medical personnel.

Also given a letter of recognition were Officers Jason Onstead and David Vogt. The officers were sent to Kroger, 4533 Monroe St., on April 1 for a possible overdose.

The officers found the woman, who was not breathing and had no pulse, on the floor of the men's restroom. Officer Vogt began chest compressions and told the woman's boyfriend how to perform mouth-to-mouth respiration.

Officer Onstead went to the patrol vehicle for a CPR mask and then led a Toledo fire crew to the woman, who continued to administer CPR until the woman regained consciousness.

The Meritorious Service Medal Award was given to Officer Mark Johnson, who, on July 19, was on his way to an off-duty assignment when he recognized two sexual assault suspects from a surveillance image he'd seen the day before.

Officer Johnson watched the two males go into a strip mall and then went to check the stores before finding one suspect in a nail salon. When backup officers arrived, Officer Johnson found the second suspect hiding in the salon's bathroom.

The suspects were wanted for aggravated burglary, aggravated robbery, and rape.

The department's highest honor, the Medal of Valor, was awarded to Officer Ben Cousino, who fatally shot Darrell Parnell on Sept. 28.

Parnell was seen inside a Jeep parked in the 1300 block of North Michigan Street when the officers arrived to a reported car break-in. Parnell took off running from Officer Cousino and Officer Jesuse Cordero, eventually being caught by Officer Cousino.

The suspect resisted, police have said, hitting and biting the rookie officer.

The suspect reportedly tried to take the officer's gun at least twice and was then took the officer's baton, which he used to repeatedly hit Officer Cousino.

Officer Cousino got to his gun and fired a single shot, striking Parnell in the chest.

The Blue Star Medal Award was given to Lt. Randy Pepitone who was shot on the side of his head July 5 as he responded to a reported burglary in the 1200 block of Indiana Avenue.

The 92-year-old woman, Annie Huddleston, who reported the burglary, mistook the lieutenant's knocking at the door as a suspect trying to get into her home. Ms. Huddleston fired a single shot from her late husband's gun, hitting the lieutenant.

The Professional Service Medal was given to Officers James Below, Scott Campbell, Amanda Evans, David Lamberger, Sidney Lark, Robin Matejewski, Doleena Murdock, Lawrence Shirey, and Keith Zaborowski; Detectives Brian Bortel, Raynard Cooper, Gregory Mattimore, and Sherri Wise; Sergeants Anthony Gillen, Joe Heffernan, Thomas La Forge, Steven Lamb, Susan Surgo, and Richard Trevino; Lieutenants Jason Brown and Phillip Cook; and civilian employees Georgina Roscoe and Delia Quisenberry.

The Civilian Employee of the Year was awarded to Ethel Perry, who has worked for the department since May 29, 1988.

Officer of the Year was given to 27-year veteran David O'Brien.

Command Officer of the Year was awarded to 23-year veteran Sgt. Tim Campbell, who oversees the Special Victims Unit. On June 1, he will move to the homicide, robbery, and assaults division.