Calling 2011 "a very challenging year," Royal Oak Police Chief Corrigan O'Donohue recognized members of the Police Department for their roles in handling two homicide investigations, protecting life and property, acts of bravery and more.
O'Donohue, along with Mayor Jim Ellison, presented multiple awards at the Royal Oak City Commission meeting Monday, with the chief giving brief remarks for each award.
"For every award I give out tonight, there are at least 20 other incidents that have simply gone unnoticed, but are no less deserving of recognition," O'Donohue said. "These awards are a sampling of the good work our people are doing every day."
Unit Citation: Woodward Dream Cruise and Arts, Beats & Eats storms
This award was given to every member of the police department working last summer when and – two major events in Royal Oak. Despite widespread damage, not a single person was injured thanks in part to the actions of the men and women of the police and fire departments and the Department of Public Service, O'Donohue said.
Unit Citation: Slayings of and
Lt. Tom Goad, Sgt. Al Carter, Sgt. Mike Fraizer and Detectives Perry Edgell, Don Swiatkowski, Keith Spencer, Patrick Stanton and Carl Barretto of the Criminal Investigation Division were recognized for their efforts in handling separate , who was killed in September and .
"I personally witnessed the intensity of the work of our people as they followed up on every lead to resolve these two cases that shook the fabric of our community," O'Donohue said.
The men were also praised for the compassion they extended to the victims' families as they worked their way through the criminal justice system.
Certificates of Commendation: Armed robbery and home invasion arrests
Officer Terrence Oaks was recognized for apprehending an armed robbery suspect, and Officers Andrew Izdorek and Brian Sobecki for their actions leading to arrests of home invasion suspects.
Certificate of Commendation: Response to knife-wielding man
Officers Matt Murray and Kevin Isaacson and Detective Patrick Stanton were recognized for their response to an elderly man wielding a knife at a business owner. The officers recognized that the 72-year-old man was having some sort of mental breakdown and were able to calm him down and take him safely into custody and get him help at , O'Donohue said.
Citation for Meritorious Service: Officers distract man with knife and disarm him
Officers Michael Stajich and Ronda Stewart, who is now retired, responded to the report of a home invasion in progress only to find the homeowner experiencing some sort of mental breakdown, O'Donohue said. As the officers tried to calm the 6-foot 4-inch man down, the man quickly armed himself with a knife.
"In this situation, the use of deadly force would have likely been justified, but our officers recognized the person needed medical help and risked their own safety to get the person the help he needed," O'Donohue said.
Civilian of the Year: Jan Grobbel
Jan Grobbel, assistant to the police chief, was honored for her professionalism.
Thanks to her excellent record keeping, she was able to reinstate funding to the department from the state of Michigan after it was denied for alleged improper paperwork. Grobbel was able to prove the proper paperwork was filed and the department received its funding, according to the chief.
"I would be here all night if I listed all the things Jan does for the department," O'Donohue said.
Police Service Aid of the Year: Dispatcher gives Heimlich instructions for choking dog
Stacy Sheldon was working Christmas Day when she received a frantic phone call from a resident whose dog was choking. Sheldon was able to calm the woman and walk her through Heimlich Maneuver instructions for a small child. By following Sheldon's instructions, the caller was able to dislodge the obstruction and the dog was fine, O'Donohue said.
Detective of the Year: Department's personal 'Geek Squad'
Detective Keith Spencer was recognized for his hard work and skills in resolving computer and financial crimes.
"He excels in the complicated process of pulling evidence from financial records, computers, hard drives and cell phones," the chief said. "He's like our own personal Geek Squad."
Command Officer of the Year: Lieutenant on homicide investigations
Lt. Tom Goad wears many hats and is a proven leader, O'Donohue said. Goad heads up the Criminal Investigation Division and had the challenge of overseeing the homicide investigations of and He is also the Liquor Control Commission coordinator and handles media inquiries for the department.
Award for Bravery: Richard Chipman earns highest honor
Chief O'Donohue saved one of the highest honors of the night for last. O'Donohue described how last December while patroling a parking lot, Richard Chipman was flagged down to handle a dispute over a parking spot. What seemed routine evolved into a foot pursuit and Chipman noticed the man reaching for something in his pocket, O'Donohue said.
Chipman deployed his Taser multiple times as the man made many attempts to pull something from his pocket. Eventually the man succumbed and was handcuffed, at which point a loaded handgun was discovered in his pocket, O'Donohue said.
The man had previous convictions for murder, assault with intent to commit murder, felony firearm and felonious assault.
"In addition to this incident, Officer Chipman is one of our most aggressive officers," O'Donohue said, adding that he leads the department in arrests, is a SWAT sniper and serves as a fitness instructor to many officers.