Thursday, April 24, 2014

PGPD Officers Honored at Annual Valor Awards Ceremony

Prince George’s County police officers and our public safety partners proudly work for the people of Prince George’s County. These first responders perform an act of bravery in service to our community every day.

This week, police officers and other first responders who went above and beyond in the line of duty were honored at the 37th Annual Valor Awards ceremony. Here are the Prince George’s County police officers who were recognized for their heroic efforts.

Police Officer of the Year
Captain John A. Boesman
Silver Medal of Valor

Just after noon on March 18, 2013, Captain John Boesman was driving down Martin Luther King Highway in Landover when he came across a single-vehicle accident. An SUV had overturned and was on fire, with the driver stuck inside. Emergency crews had not yet arrived. Captain Boesman immediately pulled over and rushed to help. Using his ASP baton he tried to break a window. When that didn’t work, he ran back to his car to get his glass punch. He returned to the burning SUV and feverishly worked to free the driver. The flames continued to spread and were now burning Captain Boesman’s face and hands.

With no regard for his own safety, he continued his efforts to free the victim. Unfortunately, as the fire’s intensity grew, it quickly spread from the back of the SUV into the passenger compartment. Within minutes, the SUV was completely consumed by the flames.  Sadly, the driver remained trapped and died at the scene.

Captain Boesman was admitted to the burn unit at Medstar Health’s Washington Hospital Center. He suffered second degree burns to his face, hands and finger tips, as well as smoke inhalation and a deep cut to his palm.

For his unparalleled courage and unhesitating willingness to risk serious injury to rescue a citizen, Captain Boesman earned a Silver Medal of Valor and was named the Prince George’s County Police Department’s Police Officer of the Year.

Police Officer First Class Nicole M. McGowen
Bronze Medal of Valor

On the night of August 18, 2013, Police Officer First Class Nicole McGowen received a call to check on the welfare of the residents at an apartment in the 6200 block of Fernwood Terrace in Riverdale. The dispatcher advised the officer that sounds of a man and woman fighting and screaming could be heard on the open 911 line. When Officer McGowen arrived, she saw five children and two adults outside of the home. She also saw smoke billowing from the windows of the apartment and knew immediately it was on fire. She requested the assistance of Fire/EMS and then worked to determine if anyone was still inside. The children told her there were in fact people in the apartment. Without hesitation, Officer McGowen raced inside and found a man and woman at the top of the stairs. The woman was lying on the ground naked. Officer McGowen told them they had to get out of the apartment right away.  The woman refused and stated she wanted to kill herself.  Officer McGowen acted quickly; she bent down and grabbed the woman’s arm and placed it over her shoulder.  She lifted up the woman and carried her down the steps to safety. She also instructed the man to get out of the apartment. Fortunately he complied, and made it out safely on his own. An investigation later revealed the female had intentionally set the fire. For her heroic actions and willingness to place her life in danger, Police Officer First Class McGowen earned a Bronze Medal of Valor.

Corporal Adam K. Wyatt
Bronze Medal of Valor

Police Officer First Class Jeffery E. Azumah
Bronze Medal of Valor

On the night of May 29, 2013, officers were dispatched to 21000 block of Aquasco Road in Aquasco for an attempted suicide. Corporal Wyatt and Officer Azumah arrived on the scene and discovered a home was filled with smoke. They learned that an intoxicated woman had cut both of her wrists and then set fire to some clothing in an upstairs bedroom. The officers immediately entered the burning home to search for the woman. The thick smoke made it hard for them to see and breathe. They were able to find the woman in the living room, clinging to a chair very close to the flames. Corporal Wyatt tried to escort her from the home. She resisted by kicking Corporal Wyatt. Officer Azumah took away the chair as Corporal Wyatt pulled back her arms. The officers then had to drag the woman from the burning home as she continued to resist their efforts to help. Once the woman was safely outside, she was flown to Prince George’s Hospital for treatment and an emergency psychiatric evaluation.  For their heroic actions and willingness to place themselves at risk, Corporal Wyatt and Police Officer First Class Azumah earned Bronze Medals of Valor.

Corporal Jordan M. Swonger
Gold Medal of Valor

Captain Harold J. Simms, III
Silver Medal of Valor

Corporal Eric B. Southan
Bronze Medal of Valor

Corporal James E. Carpenter
Bronze Medal of Valor

Police Officer Kenneth G. Tant
Bronze Medal of Valor

Police Officer Dewayne M. Harris
Bronze Medal of Valor

On July 5, 2012, PGPD officers responded to the 4700 block of Lakeland Road in College Park for the report of a man under the influence of PCP threatening his family with a gun. Corporal Swonger arrived and saw the suspect walking his mother down the street, with a semi-automatic handgun pointed at her back. Corporal Swonger got out of his cruiser and ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. The suspect turned and began firing at Corporal Swonger. Corporal Swonger immediately returned fire. Additional officers arrived on the scene and tried to get control of the suspect who was now lying on the ground; his gun within arm’s reach. Corporal Swonger deployed his Taser. Unfazed, the suspect tried to disarm Corporal Swonger of his Taser. The officers struggled with the suspect, but he was able to get loose and run away.

Captain Simms immediately got into his cruiser and followed the suspect as he ran down the middle of the four-lane roadway. The suspect eventually ran onto the sidewalk, at which time he reached into his pocket and removed an object which was believed to be another firearm. He then turned, extended his arm, and pointed the object at pursuing officers. At this time, and facing an imminent threat, Captain Simms and Officers Tant and Carpenter discharged their duty weapons. The suspect was struck multiple times; however, due to his PCP intoxication, the rounds had no effect and he continued to resist all attempts to be placed under arrest.

The suspect then ran into the street and jumped into an unoccupied, marked police cruiser. Captain Simms got into his cruiser and was able to block the suspect’s getaway. The suspect then got out of the cruiser and tried to get into another one. Another struggle occurred in an attempt to place the suspect into custody. Despite the fact the suspect was suffering from numerous gunshot wounds, the officers’ attempts to subdue him by deploying OC spray, ASP strikes, and additional Taser deployments proved ineffective. The suspect was eventually able to put the marked cruiser into drive and flee. The suspect crashed a short distance away. With the assistance of approximately 12 additional officers, the suspect was finally placed into custody. 

For their courageous actions, while exposed to extreme danger, Corporal Swonger earned a Gold Medal of Valor; Captain Simms earned a Silver Medal of Valor and Corporals Southan and Carpenter, and Officers Tant and Harris earned Bronze Medals of Valor.

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