Twelve Virginia Law Enforcement Officers Receive 2017 VACP Awards for Valor
On September 19, 2017, the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (VACP) presented twelve Virginia law enforcement officers from six agencies with the Association's highest honor, the Award for Valor. The awards were presented during the Valor Awards Banquet at the VACP Annual Conference, held this year at the Wyndham Oceanfront Hotel in Virginia Beach.
The Award for Valor recognizes a law enforcement officer who, in the line of duty, performs an act of extraordinary heroism while engaged with an adversary at imminent personal risk.
Officers receiving the 2017 Awards for Valor are:
Chesapeake Police Department
Officer Heather R. Bishop
Officer Konrad V. Kaufman
On April 27, 2016, Chesapeake Police Officers Heather Bishop and Konrad Kaufman were dispatched to serve an emergency custody order. As Officer Bishop spoke with the subject's mother in the residence, the subject entered and approached with a handgun. Officer Bishop quickly retreated but the subject began firing at the officers. They immediately sought separate cover.
The subject repeatedly emerged from cover and fired on both officers. Officer Kaufman was able to return fire several times before the subject focused his fire on him. Pinned down, Officer Kaufman radioed Officer Bishop to tell her to take the shot if she had it.
Officer Bishop stepped out from cover and fired four rounds at the subject, drawing his fire off of Officer Kaufman and allowing Kaufman to take a better position. The subject's mother ran into the front yard and the subject fired one round at her, injuring her. Officer Kaufman then re-engaged the subject for what would be the last time. The subject fell down, wounded, but still had control of his weapon. Both officers repeatedly gave verbal commands that the subject ignored. Even wounded, he continued to attempt to grasp his weapon until he became physically unable to do so.
Officers Bishop and Kaufman performed at the highest possible level during this incident. Under a great deal of stress, they relied heavily upon their training and maintained contact with each other. Their actions saved not only their own lives, but the lives of the two adults and four children inside the subject's residence.
Since the incident, Officer Kaufman has joined the Roanoke Police Department. We are honored to present Officer Heather Bishop and former Officer Konrad Kaufman with the VACP Award for Valor.
Chesterfield County Police Department
Officer First Class Christopher L. Hodges
In the early morning of November 24, 2016, Chesterfield County police officers were dispatched to an armed robbery in progress at a gas station. Officer First Class Christopher Hodges was working in an adjacent area and immediately responded to the emergency call along with fellow officers. After positioning his police cruiser behind the nearby Waffle House, Officer Hodges arrived on scene by foot approximately three minutes after the initial call was dispatched. Upon seeing Officer Hodges, the suspect immediately changed his direction of escape.
Knowing the subject was armed, Officer Hodges gave chase without hesitation. He swiftly ran between a dumpster and the Waffle House only to find himself under gun fire in the restaurant's parking lot. As he ran for cover, Officer Hodges returned fire toward the wood line where the shooter was concealed, successfully changed his magazine, and then continued to fire at the suspect, striking him once. Shortly after, the wounded suspect crawled out of the woods and was taken into custody by assisting officers. The firearm used by the suspect and nine spent shell casings were later recovered from the woods. The suspect is now serving a sentence in prison.
Through his heroic and courageous actions, Officer First Class Hodges embodied the Chesterfield County Police Department's mission of public service while courageously ensuring the safety of the community. He carried out his duty by pursuing an armed and dangerous subject, which put his life at risk. Officer Hodges is recognized for his bravery, tactical skill, and the high level of service displayed during this extremely dangerous and violent incident.
We are honored to present Officer First Class Christopher Hodges with the VACP Award for Valor.
Harrisonburg Police Department
Officer Joshua W. Joseph
Officer Dwayne Jones
Officer Justin Kline
Virginia State Police
Trooper Scott A. Lam
Just before midnight on February 26, 2017, Harrisonburg Police Officer Joshua Joseph observed an oncoming vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed — 53 MPH in a 35 MPH zone. Officer Joseph turned on the vehicle and activated his blue lights as the suspect vehicle approached an intersection and illegally turned right against a red light. Officer Joseph followed the vehicle, which turned the wrong way down a one-way street. The suspect continued to drive erratically, disregarding red lights and stop signs through the downtown business district. Officer Joseph then turned his blue lights off and attempted to simply follow the suspect vehicle as he had recorded the vehicle's registration. Officer Joseph eventually lost track of the suspect vehicle and resumed his regular patrol assignment.
About 30 minutes later, Officer Joseph observed a dark-colored truck that he believed was the same vehicle that he had attempted to stop earlier. Officer Joseph did not activate his blue lights until he could confirm from the registration that it was the same vehicle. He notified the Emergency Communications Center that he was following the suspect vehicle and requested other units before he would initiate a traffic stop to avoid another possibility of a vehicle pursuit.
Officer Justin Kline was in the area when Officer Joseph's request for assistance came over the radio. As Kline approached, he observed Officer Joseph behind the suspect vehicle and turned around. Knowing the suspect vehicle had fled before, Officer Kline positioned his patrol vehicle at an angle to the suspect vehicle to prevent it from backing up to strike an officer or patrol vehicle. By this time, Officer Dwayne Jones had arrived to assist.
Officer Kline exited his patrol vehicle and observed the suspect exit his vehicle with a small black revolver in his hand. The suspect immediately began to fire at Officer Kline, shattering the windshield of his patrol vehicle. A second round hit the spotlight on his vehicle.
The suspect then turned his weapon toward Officer Joseph, firing several rounds. Officer Joseph proceeded to a nearby tree for cover as the suspect was firing on him. Officer Jones observed the suspect exit his vehicle and fire two shots at Officer Kline. Officer Jones and the suspect exchanged gunfire as Officer Kline was getting off the ground to pursue the suspect. Officer Jones and Officer Joseph then joined Kline in the foot pursuit.
Virginia State Police Trooper Scott Lam had been monitoring HPD's radio traffic and immediately responded to assist the Harrisonburg officers with the stop. On arrival, Trooper Lam observed the suspect firing at the officers and, without hesitation, joined them in the foot pursuit.
The officers and Trooper Lam chased the suspect into the residential area and observed him turn a corner behind a residence and then either fall or jump into a boat on the ground. The officers repeatedly commanded the suspect to drop his weapon, which he had trained on the officers from his position inside the boat. Officer Jones again returned fire at the suspect.
Officers Joseph, Kline and Jones and Trooper Lam again took cover to assess the situation. Realizing the suspect was in the process of reloading his revolver, Trooper Lam used the distraction to his advantage and stealthily advanced on the suspect. Within seconds, Lam had disarmed the man and apprehended him.
With the suspect in custody, Trooper Lam assessed the well-being and safety of the Harrisonburg officers before rendering first aid to the injured suspect until EMS arrived on scene. The suspect was transported to UVA Medical and treated for the four gunshot wounds he sustained.
The investigation revealed the suspect had told members of his family that he was looking for a weapon so he could have a, “shootout” with law enforcement. The suspect is presently being held on numerous charges, including the attempted murder of four police officers.
For their acts of bravery in the line of fire, we award Harrisonburg Police Officers Joshua Joseph, Dwayne Jones and Justin Kline and Virginia State Police Trooper Scott Lam with the VACP Award for Valor.
Hopewell Police Department
Detective Cameron List
On March 20, 2016, Hopewell Police Officer Cameron List responded to a stabbing in progress call at Twin Rivers Apartments. His quick arrival interrupted the knife attack on an already seriously wounded victim.
Officer List was immediately confronted by the highly agitated offender who advanced towards him yielding three knives and was yelling for the officer to shoot him. Officer List gave several verbal commands for the suspect to drop the knives while trying to keep distance between the rapidly approaching offender and himself.
Unfortunately, the commands were unsuccessful and the assailant rushed Officer List, who was forced to discharge his weapon, killing the offender. First aid was immediately given to the mortally wounded offender as well as to the victim of the knife assault.
Both the offender's daughter and the mother of the stabbing victim stated that, had Officer List not arrived and taken action when he did, the victim would have been killed in the stabbing attack. Both women called Officer List a “hero” and came to the Police Department to thank him personally.
For his extraordinary heroism and for putting his own life in imminent danger to save another, Hopewell Police Detective Cameron List is recognized with the VACP Award for Valor.
Newport News Police Department
Sergeant Brendan D. Bartley
Master Police Officer Jamie A. Acree
On January 14, 2016 at approximately 11 am, Newport News police units were dispatched in reference to a vehicle crash. As officers responded, dispatch advised that there was a subject at the crash scene with a gun and that shots had been fired.
When the first officers arrived on scene, they observed two subjects had been shot and killed inside one of the vehicles. The officers were approached by a subject that had been in the vehicle, but was not injured, who pointed out the fleeing suspect that had committed the shooting. The first officer on scene radioed what the suspect was wearing and his direction of travel and requested officers respond to the area where he was headed.
Sergeant Brendan Bartley and Master Police Officer Jamie Acree arrived in the area and were setting up a perimeter when Sergeant Bartley radioed that he observed the suspect in the 1300 block of Roanoke Avenue. Sergeant Bartley took position on the west side of a courtyard between a set of buildings and MPO Acree was on the east side. Sergeant Bartley then reported that shots were fired and the suspect was down.
It appeared the suspect had discharged his weapon into the door of an apartment in an attempt to gain entry. Sergeant Bartley discharged two rounds from his duty weapon and MPO Acree discharged one round at the suspect when they observed he had a weapon and was not following their commands. The suspect sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Two weapons were recovered in the immediate area of the suspect. Later investigation connected the suspect's weapon to the murdered individuals at the crash scene. If not for the immediate actions of Sergeant Bartley and MPO Acree, a dangerous criminal may not have been taken into custody for the violent murders of two individuals.
We are honored to recognize Sergeant Brendan Bartley and Master Police Officer Jamie Acree with the VACP Award for Valor.
Virginia State Police
Special Agent Travis W. Keeter
Trooper Jamell R. Johnson
On the afternoon of March 31, 2016, a total of 16 troopers, special agents and supervisors had reported to the Greyhound Bus Station in the City of Richmond to conduct field practical operations.
The actions of a 34-year-old restaurant patron had caught the eye of Virginia State Trooper Chad Dermyer. As the man exited the terminal's bathroom, Trooper Dermyer casually approached the man and engaged in a brief conversation with him. Shortly into the conversation, the male subject turned slightly away from the trooper to conceal the Beretta 40-caliber handgun he pulled from his waistband.
Within seconds, the male subject turned around and began shooting Trooper Dermyer at close range. He also shot and wounded a 21-year-old New York woman and a 41-year-old North Carolina woman standing nearby in the terminal.
Trooper Jamell Johnson and then-Trooper Travis Keeter were the closest in proximity to Trooper Dermyer and to the shooter. Refusing to take cover, Trooper Johnson and Trooper Keeter immediately engaged the shooter in order to neutralize the ongoing threat to their fellow troopers and the citizens inside the bus terminal. Both troopers fired on the suspect, and Trooper Keeter continued the firefight as the suspect retreated into the terminal's restaurant. Trooper Keeter was then able to place the suspect in handcuffs as Trooper Johnson went to Trooper Dermyer's aid.
The suspect's actions that afternoon clearly presented a life and death situation for numerous individuals inside the terminal. The gunman not only had an extensive criminal record in the state of Illinois, which included numerous drug violations and violent crimes, but he also had 143 rounds of additional ammunition in his possession. There is no doubt additional lives were saved because of Trooper Johnson and Special Agent Keeter's instantaneous actions. Both readily put their own safety at risk in order to protect Trooper Dermyer and every other individual — sworn and civilian — exposed to this deadly gunman.
The concerted actions demonstrated by Trooper Johnson and Special Agent Keeter went well above and beyond the call of duty. A supervisor, who reviewed surveillance footage from inside the terminal stated, “… Special Agent Keeter's speed in reacting was truly remarkable. His instant response clearly caught the suspect off guard.” Despite best efforts by Trooper Johnson and Special Agent Keeter, Trooper Chad Dermyer's wounds proved to be fatal. Trooper Jamell Johnson and Special Agent Travis Keeter displayed exceptional leadership, courage, and professionalism, putting their lives on the line to save others. The VACP is honored to present them with the distinguished Award for Valor.
The Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police & Foundation (www.vachiefs.org) is a statewide charitable organization of federal, state and local police chiefs and other law enforcement executives dedicated to improving the professionalism of police agencies in Virginia and to providing training and education programs for law enforcement executives. The Association was founded in 1926 and has more than 600 members.
PHOTO CAPTION: 2017 VACP Award for Valor Recipients — (front row, L to R) Officer Konrad Kaufman (formerly Chesapeake PD, currently Roanoke PD) & Officer Heather Bishop (Chesapeake PD); Officers Dwayne Jones, Justin Kline & Joshua Joseph, Harrisonburg Police Department; and Trooper Scott Lam, Virginia State Police.
(back row, L to R) Special Agent Travis Keeter & Trooper Jamell Johnson, Virginia State Police; MPO Jamie Acree & Sgt. Brendan Bartley, Newport News Police Department; and Detective Cameron List, Hopewell Police Department.
PHOTOGRAPHER; Erin Schrad, VACP
Additional photos of the award winners are available at http://photos.vachiefs.org/VACP-Conferences/2017-VACP-Annual-Conference/
Contact: Ms. Dana Schrad, Executive Director
Mobile: (804) 338-9512 • Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Immediate Release