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Officers and community members honored for lifesaving and community-building efforts

INDEPENDENT PHOTO: JULIA COMNES. - The Woodburn Police Department honored 16 community members and police officers for 2016 and 2017 accomplishments. (From left) Ewart Brown, Paul Bickmore, Rhonda Judson, Tim Quinn, Mayor Kathy Figley, Police Chief Jim Ferraris, Sgt. Colleen Altabef, Eric Swenson, Officer Matt Stearns, Officer Robert Prinslow, Officer Geoff Carpenter, Officer Jorge Gaspar, Officer Aaron DeVoe, Officer Jarrod Bowers, Officer Zachary Williams, Shawn Baird of Woodburn Ambulance, City Administrator Scott Derickson, former Woodburn Fire District Chief Paul Iverson.The Woodburn Police Department honored 16 people for service, lifesaving and appreciation awards acknowledging 2017 events at the Jan. 8 city council meeting.

"I am very proud of our officers and community partners for not just doing their jobs, but making a difference in the community," Chief Ferraris said in the city's weekly e-blast on Jan. 5. "We have such great people working and living in Woodburn, and we have one of the best police departments in Oregon. A department I am very proud to lead."

Capt. Tom Tennant Memorial Service Award

Woodburn Police Officer Jorge Gaspar was presented with the inaugural Capt. Tom Tennant Memorial Service Award. He was honored for his efforts to consistently deliver police services in a manner that embodies the core values of the Woodburn Police Department and performing his duty in a manner set by Tennant, who lost his life while responding to the 2008 bank bombing.

"Capt. Tom Tennant served this community and our profession with honor and dignity and displayed compassion toward others, striving for excellence in service while maintaining high moral and ethical standards," Ferraris said in the e-blast. "I am so glad that we can honor Tom's memory through bestowing this award on worthy department members."

Gaspar has worked for the police department for 13 years and currently works as a school resource officer, according to information presented at the council meeting.

Distinguished Service Medal:

Detective Aaron DeVoe was honored with a distinguished service medal for his work investigating a multi-year crime spree committed by Woodburn resident Dustin Nehl.

DeVoe investigated a string of crimes that took place in Woodburn between 2014 and 2016, ranging from spray paint vandalism to criminal mischief to fire bombings to first degree arson. That included one instance in which the city of Woodburn's water tanks had been significantly damaged in a way that suggested an attempt to disrupt the city's water supply.

As a result of DeVoe's investigation, Nehl was indicted and eventually pleaded guilty to the crimes in 2017.

"Officer DeVoe went above and beyond his assigned work duties and responsibilities in his investigation of these crimes. His efforts enhanced the livability of Woodburn and brought order to events that terrorized many in the community," said Jason Horton, the city's communications coordinator, at the council meeting.

Lifesaving Medal

Five Woodburn officers were awarded lifesaving medals for their roles in saving the lives of three residents.

Officer Jarrod Bowers was honored for his role in preventing a young man from committing suicide in August 2017. Bowers communicated with the young man, who was hanging off a highway overpass.

"Other officers on the scene thought Bowers demonstrated diligence and compassion when speaking with the youth, who was positively responding to Officer Bowers' communication," Horton said. "Officer Bowers' determination and effective communication skills built trust with the youth and convinced him to stop movements that could have been perilous."

Eventually, the youth returned to safety. He was taken to an area hospital for evaluation.

Sgt. Colleen Altabef and Officer Zachary Williams were honored for their work in resuscitating a man who had been found unconscious in a Woodburn residence in May 2016.

When the officers arrived on the scene, the man wasn't breathing, was turning blue and had a weak pulse.

Williams began CPR, and Altabef ensured the man's airway stayed open to allow him to breathe.

After several cycles of CPR, the man began breathing and a pulse returned. Medical units arrived and transported him to an area hospital.

"The quick action of Officer Williams and Officer Altabef in identifying the medical issue and responding with the immediate application of CPR undoubtedly saved the man's life," Horton said.

And officers Geoff Carpenter and Matt Stearns were honored for their role in saving the life of a young man experiencing an opioid overdose in July 2017.

Carpenter administered a nasal spray dose of naloxone, an opioid antagonist that can reverse the life-threatening effects of an opioid overdose.

Both Carpenter and Stearns administered CPR, until several minutes later when the man began to breathe again. He survived after medics transported him to an area hospital.

"The rapid assessment and application of the lifesaving measures of CPR and naloxone was key to this man's survival," Horton said.

Letter of Commendation

Carpenter, Williams and Stearns also received a Letter of Commendation for their role in using an AED in an attempt to save a man's life in May 2017.

When the officers arrived on the scene, the man wasn't breathing and barely had a pulse. The officers used CPR chest compressions and an AED, and EMTs took over resucitation of the victim and transported him to a local hospital.

"The victim, despite our officer's best efforts to save his life, was pronounced deceased," Horton said, adding that "each of these officers used every bit of their training, equipment and know-how in attempting to save the victims life."

Commendation Medal

Two individuals received commendation medals. That included Officer Robert Prinslow, who is president of local nonprofit Love Santa, Inc.

Each year, Prinslow leads the nonprofit in donating toys and food to hundreds of local families during the holiday season.

"Officer Prinslow's actions go above and beyond his work duties and responsibilities," Horton said. "His years of work with Love Santa have made a positive difference in so many lives in Woodburn."

And community member Tim Quinn was honored for his role in encouraging the city to begin a volunteer patrol program for enforcing disabled parking laws. Upon his suggestion, the Woodburn City Council passed an ordinance in October 2017 authorizing the city to create the patrol program.

Quinn has already agreed to be one of the volunteer patrols, Horton said.

Chief's Certificate of Appreciation

Former Woodburn Fire District Chief Paul Iverson and Woodburn Ambulance owner Shawn Baird were given certificates of appreciation for their roles in helping the police department

"This type of collaboration resulted in a true community connections day. It gave the Woodburn community one more way to connect with services and other residents," Horton said.

The last awards were given to Eric Swenson and Rhonda Judson, both of Woodburn Proud, and Al Herriges, publisher of the Woodburn Independent, for their joint effort in raising enough money for the Woodburn Police Department to purchase 15 AEDs in 2017.

In May 2017, the Woodburn Independent published several articles outlining the lifesaving benefits of AEDs. Woodburn Proud served as a clearinghouse for donations and also donated $5,000 of its own funds for the cause.

The organizations surpassed the $10,000 fundraising goal. Now, 15 Woodburn Police Department patrol cars are equipped with the lifesaving devices.

"Al, Eric and Rhonda, representing the Pamplin Media Group, Woodburn independent and Woodburn Proud, made a difference in our community through partnership and collaboration," Horton said.


Julia Comnes can be reached at 503-765-1195 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..
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