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Wichita officers among those to be honored for their actions

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Friday, July 19, 2013, at 6:27 a.m.
  • Updated Friday, July 19, 2013, at 8:25 a.m.

Last August, Wichita police officers were dispatched to the Burlington Coat Factory on East Kellogg for a call of an “active shooter.”

Police said Jake L. Jacobs, 27, had fired at a security guard in the store after he was asked whether he was going to pay for a soda he drank.

After confronting the suspect in the store, the police officers were able to subdue Jacobs and avoid any injuries to the 20 other people in the store.

Those officers, and many others from across the state, will be honored Friday night at the annual Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police awards banquet in Newton for their actions while in the line of duty.

The ceremony will include three awards: the Bronze Award, for outstanding achievement above and beyond normal law enforcement responsibilities and duties; the Silver Award, for extraordinary action that directly contributed to the significant prolonging or actual saving of life; and the Gold Award, which recognizes uncommon valor in the line of duty.

Additionally, the banquet will recognize two officers from the Topeka Police Department who were killed in the line of duty in December.

Jim Daily, chief of the Newton Police Department and chairman of the awards committee, said the committee looks for law enforcement officers who “go beyond an officer’s normal day-to-day job function.”

“Some of these nominees have been in situations where life and death are a thought process or an act away,” Daily said.

“By going in and putting themselves in a position to sacrifice their well-being or to save a life and bring resolution to a situation, those aren’t part of their regular run-of-the-mill functions of a police officer.”

Gold Award

Sergeants Richard Brunow and Bart Brunscheen and officers Bradley Crouch, Jamie Crouch, Michael Tiday, Carl Lemons Jr., Michael Cathey and Barton Norton were the Wichita officers who responded to the “active shooter” call at Burlington Coat Factory.

Security had asked Jacobs whether he was going to pay for a Sprite he drank from a refrigerator in the store. Jacobs said no and pulled a gun from his waistband and shot at the guard, whom he missed, police said. Jacobs then pointed the gun at three other people, who dove for cover.

When police arrived, Jacobs was hiding in a dressing room near the front of the store and refused to obey officers’ commands to show his hands and get on the floor. About 20 people were reported in the store at the time.

Officer Jamie Crouch then fired his Taser at Jacobs, who fell to the floor. Other officers then came to Crouch’s aid and helped to subdue Jacobs, who had a .38 caliber revolver in his pocket.

Jacobs pleaded guilty in April to two counts of aggravated assault and was sentenced in May to complete a 60-day work-release program.

It was “because of their excellent judgment and quick action … they are awarded the Kansas Association of Chiefs of Police Gold Award for displaying uncommon valor in the line of duty,” reads the transcripts for Friday evening’s ceremony.

Silver Award

“Officers, not unlike other professional people, are very humble people,” Daily said Thursday. “When it comes to doing their job, they think it’s all in a day’s work. But in actuality, it’s sometimes something far beyond the normalcy.”

That was the type of situation Sedgwick County sheriff’s Deputy Nadia Betancourt was facing in February 2012.

Betancourt and fellow deputy Kelvin Hicks were transporting nine inmates on a two-lane highway in Cherokee County when a car making a U-turn pulled in front of them. Hicks slammed on the brakes. Due to the highway’s steep embankments the van ended up heading straight for a utility pole. Hicks tried to swerve and miss the pole, but struck it with the left side of the van. The pole snapped in half, dropping utility lines on top of the van.

Betancourt, who was injured in the accident, noticed Hicks and one of the inmates had also sustained injuries. She proceeded to get everyone out of the van, secure the inmates and contact local law enforcement. Hicks was later taken to a hospital in Joplin, Mo., where it was determined he had sustained head, neck and back injuries.

Because her efforts led to the significant prolonging, or “actual saving of a life,” she will receive the silver award Friday night along with eight other officers from across the state.

Bronze Award

Lt. Jeff Weible of the Wichita Police Department will be recognized for his work with the Wichita-Sedgwick County Exploited and Missing Child Unit and the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit.

Under Weible’s tenure, he has helped bring in updated equipment and communications and raised morale in the two units, Sgt. Kevin Bradford of the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office said.

“He’s a lot different than any of the other lieutenants I’ve seen over here,” Bradford said. “He’s been very hands on — he’s not afraid to roll up his sleeves and help get the job done.”

Bradford, who has worked with the EMCU on and off since 1998, said, “with past directors, it was kind of an 8-to-5 job.”

“There’s some jobs that we go until 9, 10, 11 (at night),” Bradford said. “And he’s right here with us.”

The two units, which include personnel from the Wichita Police Department, the Sedgwick County Sheriff’s Office and the Kansas Department for Children and Families, investigate between 1,500 and 2,000 cases a year in Sedgwick County that involve alleged abuse of children, the awards transcript said.

Friday’s award description said Weible’s work has resulted in “20 defendants receiving multiple life sentences” during the last 3 1/2 years. Weible has also been instrumental in raising money for the Sedgwick County Child Advocacy Center, which has become a “one-stop” resource center for child victims.

“Those that react in a lifesaving way or a way that brings safety back to the community, that’s what they’re all trained for, but are sometimes never faced with,” Daily said.

“What they do when they face those situations, is what makes them stand out.”

Reach Raymond Howze at 316-268-6514 or rhowze@wichitaeagle.com.

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