Richland Police Department honors officers

By Sara Schilling, Tri-City HeraldJanuary 19, 2013 

The Richland Police Department is recognizing several of its own for heroism, lifesaving acts and other exceptional service.

Three officers involved in a fatal shooting in June 2011 are among those receiving honors -- in their cases, the Medal of Valor.

Their awards and others were to be presented Friday night at a ceremony at the Richland Community Center -- the first awards ceremony of its kind for the department, which has 58 commissioned police officers and 15 civilian staff.

The awards cover the 11/2 years since Police Chief Chris Skinner came on board.

They "reflect a moment in time where the staff members of the Richland Police Department ... went to great lengths and sometimes risked their lives to keep our community safe," said police Capt. Mike Cobb, spokesman for the department.

Often, "those efforts are off the radar for most of the public," he said, adding that the awards are a way to bring them to light.

Here's a list of awards and recipients:

w Medal of Valor: Sgt. Tony Striefel and Cpls. Hyrum Stohel and Bryce Henry.

The three officers -- and a fourth, who's since left the department -- shot a suspected car thief who was high on methamphetamine after he pointed a gun at officers and fired during a high-risk traffic stop in June 2011. Benton County's prosecutor ruled that the shooting was justified. An official report said the man's action "placed police officers, performing the duties asked of them by society, in immediate risk of death or serious physical injury."

w Lifesaving Award: Officers Scott Lien and Allen Jenkins. Lien resuscitated an infant using CPR and Jenkins crawled into a burning car to rescue a victim, Cobb said.

w Meritorious Service Award: Sgt. Striefel and Cpl. Stohel, for their involvement in a standoff with an armed man at a hotel.

w Several officers earned the Distinguished Service Award for their part in a lengthy operation that culminated in numerous arrests, indictments and search warrants and "had a significant impact on a criminal enterprise ring" in the region, Cobb said.

They are: Sgt. Striefel and Officers Todd Woodhouse, Jeff Bickford and Luke Flohr.

Officer Sam Grant also earned the award for his help in aiding the car wreck victim, and Lien made the list for his involvement in the June 2011 incident.

w Several officers earned the Achievement Award. They are: Officers Flohr, Lien, Joe Brazeau and Rod Matheny and Cpl. Henry.

w Police Chief's Award: Officer Martin Gilley and Amanda Donahoe, a support specialist. Gilley earned the award for his work as a reserve officer and Donahoe for her work on programs such as Shop with a Cop.

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