At Thursday's Public Safety Commission meeting, awards were presented to several deserving and heroic DPS officers and civilians. Director Steven C. McCraw thanked all of the award winners and said, "Your exceptional service and sacrifice is in keeping with the proud tradition of the Texas Department of Public Safety and the State of Texas." Public Safety Chairman, Allan Polunsky, gave special thanks to the non-Department employees who received awards. "It is rare to witness such acts of bravery from non-law enforcement officers. These civilians who risked their lives to help people in need should truly be commended," Polunsky said.
Unit Citation Award
DPS Aircraft and SWAT – The DPS Aircraft Unit and the DPS SWAT team were each awarded Unit Citation Awards for their tireless and heroic actions when a standoff in Odessa turned violent over the course of 22 hours. When DPS assumed command of the incident, it took only a few hours for DPS SWAT to conduct an operation that would end the standoff. Though the subject fired numerous times, sometimes striking accurately, DPS SWAT and DPS Aircraft were able to suppress the subject, ultimately leading to his surrender and without any loss of life.
Members of the SWAT unit that participated are: Lt. Cody Klaehn, Sgt. Chris Barclay, Sgt. Jeff Vajdos (Ranger), Sgt. Gregg Castillo, Sgt. Kevin Allison, Sgt. Jorge Ortega, Sgt. David Armstrong, Sgt. Dennis Miller, Sgt. Andrew Martinez, Sgt. Travis Ballew, Lt. Justin Holdridge, Sgt. Philip Gonzales, Sgt. Donald Jackson, Sgt. Donnie Bolton, Sgt. Benjamin Tristan, and Sgt. William Lemmon.
Members of DPS Aircraft that participated are: Lt. Matt Ruff, Sgt. Pryor Templeton, Sgt. Zane Greenwood, Lt. Tony Ashley, TFO Derome West, Lt. Nathan Lashaway, Sgt. Lee Tarter, Sgt. Shon Parker, TFO Jimmy Morris, Sgt. Clay Shelton, Sgt. Gordon Wade and Sgt. Sean Davis.
Trooper Larry Michael Vaughn, Quitman – Trooper Vaughn received the Purple Heart for injuries sustained when he served a warrant on a dangerous fugitive. The suspect discharged a shotgun through a closed window, striking Trooper Vaughn and causing serious bodily injury. Trooper Vaughn was temporarily disabled, but has now made a full recovery and has been able to return to work.
Life Saving Awards
Sergeant Scotty Shiver, Lubbock – Sergeant Shiver received the Life Saving Award when he assisted a child whose airway was blocked to the point that he was unable to breathe. Sergeant Shiver was able to revive the child, using Emergency Medical Training that he had recently received on his own time and his own expense.
Trooper Todd Adkins, Sweetwater – Trooper Adkins received the Life Saving Award for using battlefield first aid training to stop the bleeding of a gunshot wound on a victim who had been shot by a 12 gauge shotgun at close range.
Sergeant Kenneth Authier, Corsicana – Sergeant Authier received the Director's Citation for his perseverance in locating a missing person. The victim was found in a vehicle that had crashed off a bridge and was seriously injured. Sergeant Authier's dedication to searching many miles of roadway saved the victim's life. Trooper James Thompson also assisted and was recognized for his service to this incident.
Trooper Vernon Gaines, Comanche – Trooper Gaines received the Director's Citation when he was called to assist with a family violence call. The suspect had barricaded himself inside his residence and refused to speak to anyone except Trooper Gaines. Though Trooper Gaines was off duty at the time, he went to the residence and talked to the suspect until he finally surrendered without incident.
Trooper James Thompson, Austin/Corsicana – Trooper Thompson received a Director's Citation for his perseverance in locating a missing person. The victim was found in a vehicle that had crashed off a bridge and was seriously injured. Trooper Thompson's dedication to searching many miles of roadway saved the victim's life. Sergeant Kenneth Authier also assisted and was recognized for his service to this incident.
Medal of Merit
Trooper Patrick Hodgkiss, Lampasas – Trooper Hodgkiss received the "Medal of Merit" for creating an excel spreadsheet tool that assists in completing crash reports. The tool integrates nearly 700 business rules and provides immediate feedback when an error has occurred.
Kyle Evans, Canton – Mr. Evans received the Director's Award for his bravery and heroism when he entered a vehicle that crashed and was engulfed in flames in order to pull out the driver. Mr. Evans' actions saved the life of the driver of the vehicle.
Baron Northington , El Campo – Mr. Northington received the Director's Award for his bravery in running towards a vehicle that had caught on fire after a crash and extinguishing the fire, saving the lives of the two occupants of the vehicle.
Tom Porter, Cleveland – Mr. Porter received the Director's Award for his bravery when he rescued a one year old child that was trapped inside a burning vehicle. Due to Mr. Porter's quick actions, he was able to extricate the child, who sustained no injuries.
Michele Rutherford, RN, Smithville - Mrs. Rutherford received the Director's Award for her lifesaving response to a car accident. Mrs. Rutherford is a registered nurse who happened upon a car accident, crawled inside the vehicle to assist the two injured persons who were still inside, and triaged one of the victims who was suffering from arterial bleeding. The quick response from Mrs. Rutherford created time for EMS personnel to respond, and for the victim to be transported to the hospital and make a full recovery.
Information provided by Texas Department of Public Safety