There are a number of SFPD officers who have been nominated for medals of valor and have been waiting patiently for the process to take its course. It all begins with a recommendation from their Commanding Officer submitted by memorandum through channels to the SF Police Commission. The Commission then later schedules a hearing date when the matter can be discussed in front of a panel of captains and, based on the facts of the incident, the officers can be awarded several different grades of recognition, the highest being a gold medal.
One of the incidents in question occurred on November 17, 2017. It was submitted to the Chief of Police for consideration and the officers are still waiting for the next step of review.
So why is it taking so long?
To be fair, the Carona virus intrusion didn’t help matters because now any meeting scheduled with multiple participants (which would be the next step necessary in the award selection) has to provide for adequate spacing for all involved. Not something easily accomplished.
O.K. But let’s be reasonable. All the Commission has to do is pass a resolution expediting the process (we’ll draft it for them) and then get it done. And, while we’re at it, our resolution would disallow the “secret voting procedures” instituted eons ago that allows the captains to discreetly vote for a medal without identifying their selection. It would be a straight-up role call vote published in the Commission minutes.
But let’s get back to the incident in question – The one that occurred 11/17/17:
It’s very early morning hour when Officer Darren McCray and Officer Thomas Finn respond to Broadway and Montgomery regarding an auto lockout. Officer Trevor Roberts and Officer Robert Glenn also rolled by.
All of a sudden, multiple gunshots rang out and Officer McCray saw flashes of light coming from a room on the second story of the apartment building across the street from where the officers were standing. The officers moved several bystanders away from the danger, took cover themselves and called for back-up. These were big rounds being fired, easily passing through and leaving large holes in several parked cars nearby.
Sergeant Brent Bradford and Sergeant Scott Gaines responded to the scene and set up an incident command post at 425 Broadway where they coordinated the allocation of resources, established a safe avenue of approach for additional responding units, and requested an ambulance to stand by.
It was then that Sergeant Bradford and Gaines quickly formulated an action plan based on the relevant facts known at the time:
The suspect had fired multiple shots from apartment #7 in the direction of officers.
The suspect retreated from the apartment window and concealed his whereabouts inside the unit by shutting the lights off.
The suspect tactically had a position of advantage from the second floor apartment, which was elevated from the officers on the street level.
There were unknown injuries/casualties inside the building
It was unknown if the suspect was still inside of his apartment.
Captain Dominic Yin, Sergeant Bradford, and Sergeant Gaines knew they had an obligation to find and isolate the threat to determine the appropriate law enforcement and medical response. They decided to deploy a contact team with Sergeant Bradford as the lead since he had extensive military and tactical operation experience.
The contact team had 2 primary goals: Locate the suspect and eliminate any threat if the suspect began to shoot again, search for additional suspects, victims, and render aid.
Sergeant Bradford assembled a contact team consisting of the following officers: Officer David Cheng, Officer Gregory Buhagiar, Officer Christopher Cassinelli, Officer Jason Gallagher, and Officer Jeremy Cummings.
The team started their movement to the apartment in the face of known danger, not knowing if the suspect would continue firing his weapon through the door or window of the apartment. But the suspect had fled the apartment leaving behind numerous .223 caliber rounds. The apartment manager then provided the officers with video surveillance footage that showed the suspect fleeing apartment #7 and entering apartment #4. The suspect still appeared to be an carrying an assault rifle and had a handgun in his tucked in his waistband.
The contact team made their way to apartment #4 knowing that the suspect was in possession of an assault rifle and handgun risking danger to their own lives. They verbally ordered the suspect to surrender. The suspect finally gave up and came out. The officers found the assault rifle inside the apartment as well as a .45 caliber, semi-automatic weapon both loaded and ready to fire.
Captain Paul Yep had submitted a memorandum commending all the officers involved which read:
“All of the parties in this arrest and investigation are to be commended for their roles. Officers McCray, Finn, Glenn, and Roberts’ quick and decisive actions in getting citizens to safety while in the line of gunfire saving them from imminent danger.
Sergeant Bradford and his contact team (Officers Cheng, Buhagiar, Cassinelli, Gallagher, and Cummings) as well as the arrest team consisting of Officer McCray, Glenn and Roberts, in the face of great danger, efficiently, and with great calculation, tracked down the heavily armed suspect leading to his arrest for attempted homicide and related charges.
All of the officers accomplished this objective with great risk to themselves.”
Yes, they did. And they deserve recognition for it.
And not just from the Close Encounter column, even though we have a larger fan base . . .
And that was only one of several incidents we could cite. Captain Laura Knight, commanding officer of Southern Station, requested the consideration of the Awards panel for medals of valor for 2 members of her province. Her request still awaiting review even though the facts clearly established outstanding bravery on the part of the officers involved as related here:
On5/25/19, Officer Charles August and Officer Trent Collins were working uniformed patrol in the Southern District as one-officer units. At approximately 1242 hours, dispatch broadcasted a call of shots fired in the location of Golden Gate Avenue and Hyde Street in the Tenderloin District. The officers from Tenderloin Task Force (TTF) located a victim who had been shot numerous times and they began to render aid. Within minutes officers on the scene had been able to obtain a description of the suspect, his vehicle, and the gun which he might still have in his possession which, by locating the shell casings, revealed it was an assault weapon.
Officer Charles August was parked nearby an entrance to the Bay Bridge in anticipation the suspect may drive by and, sure enough, the car sped by the officer eastbound on the freeway. Officer Trent Collins joined the pursuit. The suspect soon lost control of his car and Officer August and Officer Trent were able to place him under arrest. The weapon apparently used in the shooting was located in the front seat of the suspect’s vehicle within arm’s reach.
Captain Knight knew that Officer August and Officer Collins went above and beyond in this incident when they knowingly pursued a shooting suspect who was armed with an assault rifle and had just shot a person and she wanted to make sure they were recognized for their outstanding bravery.
And that’s what great bosses do!
These 2 incidents cited are not meant to be critical of the Police Commission. We just wanted to bring them to light so the process can be streamlined so outstanding police work can be recognized, honored and rewarded.
After all, even citizen complaints that are filed against officers have a 1-year mandatory completion date! Just saying.
Stay healthy and safe!