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Roswell police officers hailed for service

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Roswell Police Officer Donald O’Connor, left, accepts the award for 2018 Officer of the Year from Chief Philip Smith during the Roswell Police Department 2020 Awards Ceremony on Feb. 27 at the Roswell Convention and Civic Center, 912 N. Main. O’Connor was also recognized as Officer of the Fourth Quarter for 2018, and as a member of the SWAT team that received a Meritorious Award for actions in December 2017. (Juno Ogle Photo)

The Roswell Police Department honored some officers and detectives for their service in the line of duty during an awards ceremony Feb. 27.

Law enforcement officers past and present, their loved ones, and members of the Roswell City Council packed into the Roswell Convention & Civic Center.

Phil Smith, chief of the Department, said the ceremony is meant to recognize officers who retired, were promoted or excelled in the performance of their duties. Though usually an annual event, Smith said the department was too busy to hold it last year.

Instead, the department decided to give out awards Feb. 27 for both 2018 and 2019.

“We had a double feature,” Smith said.

Officer Brad Bailey, who received the Officer of the Third Quarter 2019 award for his work assisting officers in training, said he was grateful for the chance to be in the spotlight.

He said like anyone, he likes when he gets work recognized by his superior.

“So I appreciate it very much,” Bailey said, as he stood with his parents by his side following the ceremony.

Each award recipient was called forward by Smith, prompting the attendees to briefly erupt in applause. They were then handed an award and stood before the audience for a moment.

The Roswell Police Department Special Weapons and Tactics (SWAT) team and two lieutenants with the Roswell Fire Department received the Meritorious Award.

SWAT team members honored were: Captain Filomeno Gonzalez, former SWAT team commander; officers Trong Nguyen, Tan Nguyen and Narciso Santillan; detectives Gino Basile and Brandon Stroud; and sergeants Ryan Craine, Scott Wrenn and Donald O’Connor. Tom Graham and Corey Mealand, lieutenants with the Roswell Fire Department, were also recognized for their contributions.

The SWAT Team, along with Graham and Mealand, received the Meritorious Award for their handling of a Dec. 27, 2017 standoff on East Pine Lodge Road.

Smith recounted the incident for the audience. He said on the night it happened, the SWAT Team had to execute a warrant on a person. The subject of the warrant barricaded himself inside, refusing to come out for the police.

Despite various attempts to negotiate a surrender, the subject began opening fire. Officers at the scene returned fire, resulting in the death of the subject, Smith said.

“Their actions, under fire, were beneficial to the safety and well-being of other other law enforcement and fire personnel at the scene,” he said.

Medal of Valor went to Sgt. Jeffrey Prince and officers Joel Smoyer, Adrian Jimenez and Randy Rodriquez for their actions during a pursuit of a suspect.

Officers were dispatched to a location Sept. 24, 2017 to do a welfare check on someone reported to possibly be passed out inside a vehicle. When the officers arrived, they saw large amounts of ammunition and narcotics in the vehicle, Smith said.

The person inside refused to exit the vehicle and subsequently led police on a chase. The pursuit led to Alamo Road, where at the time a concealed carry class for civilians was happening.

Smith recalled that when the vehicle halted, the individual began firing shots, with the officers returning fire. The subject then fled in the vehicle, firing shots out the window.

Later the vehicle came to another stop and gunfire between the driver and police was again exchanged, he said. The individual was later taken into custody by police while outside the vehicle reloading his weapon.

“With these officers’ quick response to the situation, many civilians were kept from harm,” Smith told the crowd.

Beyond vehicle pursuits and arrests, Craine and officers Steven Rosser and Tan Nguyen were recognized for saving the lives of three citizens. Each were presented with a Life Saving Award.

Sergeant Ryan Craine

Craine was honored for the actions he took to save the life of a wounded victim April 5, 2018 while responding to a shooting on the west side of Roswell.

When he arrived, Craine encountered a man with several gunshot wounds. Smith said Craine performed first aid on the victim by applying a tourniquet to the victim’s right arm.

The victim was then able to provide Craine with information about the suspect.

“Victim was taken to a hospital and flown to Lubbock, where he survived his injuries, due to Sergeant Craine’s life-saving measures,” Smith said.

Officer Steven Rosser

An unconscious woman had her life saved by Rosser on March 12, 2019.

Smith said that on that date a 911 call was received where a female was yelling for help. A number of medical calls had been placed from the address.

After speaking with dispatch for a time, the woman ceased answering questions, Smith said.

When Rosser and other officers arrived, they requested expedited arrival of medics. Smith added that the subject was unresponsive.

Rosser then gave breaths to the woman, while fire personnel and medics were also aiding her.

“His efforts resulted in saving her life,” Smith said.

Officer Tan Nguyen

Though he was off-duty at the time, Officer Tan Nguyen took action that saved the life of a child who was chocking.

Nguyen was at a football game Nov. 30, 2019 when he heard parents desperately trying to save their son, who was choking, Smith recalled.

Nguyen responded by approaching the child and parents and administering “back blows” to try and dislodge the object so the boy could breath.

“Officer Nguyen did not know the parents or the child, but rendered aid without hesitation, actually saving the child’s life,” Smith said.

Other awards

The ceremony also took time to recognize Officers Scott Wrenn and Donald O’Connor as Officer of the Second and Fourth quarter of 2018, respectively.

O’Connor was also named 2018 Officer of the Year and Agent Jorge Arroyo-Jaime 2019 Officer of the Year.

Civilian of the First Quarter 2019 award went to Fabianna Ortega for her work at the front desk of the Roswell Police Department. Cammie Aguirre of the Technical Services Unit was named Civilian of the Second Quarter 2019.

Bailey was recognized as Officer of the Third Quarter 2019 and Laura Macias — a school resource officer — Officer of the Fourth Quarter 2019.

Nine detectives and 16 officers who received promotions in 2018 and 2019 were recognized.

Retired detectives, a captain, two lieutenants and two detectives were also thanked for their years on the job.

Breaking news reporter Alex Ross can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 301, or at breakingnews@rdrnews.com.