With National Police Week and National Peace Officers Memorial Day just around the corner, the Centralia Police Department held its 2022 officer recognition awards ceremony at Tuesday night’s city council meeting.
Police Chief Stacy Denham also swore in a new officer.
August Shulda, of Longview, is the newest addition to the department. Shulda served in the U.S. Army for five years following high school. He ended up as a team leader for a scout platoon in the 1st Battalion, 17th Infantry Regiment at Joint Base Lewis-McChord.
After being discharged, he graduated from the Washington State Basic Law Enforcement Academy, joined the Thurston County Sheriff’s Office and attended the Criminal Justice Training Commission.
“August comes to us from Thurston County after a difference in philosophy, which is pretty common in law enforcement, with that agency,” Denham said, later adding, “He also enjoys the outdoors, fishing and taking his dog, Obi, on hikes. I did ask him, and yes, he is named after Obi-wan Kenobi.”
Shulda read the law enforcement code of ethics before the council and was sworn in by Denham. His badge was pinned on by his girlfriend, Julia Morasch.
Following Shulda’s swearing-in ceremony, Denham began the 2022 officer recognition award ceremony.
Detective Adam Haggerty was given the 2022 Officer of the Year award for his hard work and dedication throughout the entire year. The Officer of the Year award recipient is nominated and chosen by all members of the Centralia Police Department. Haggerty was the unanimous choice this year, Dehnam said.
“He is described by his peers as a ‘go-to-guy’ when you need assistance with a case, seizure notices, suspect information, search warrants and much, much more,” Denham said.
Cody Revay, Ethan Mark and Logan Magill were the recipients of citizen commendations for assistance they provided in helping a Centralia police officer detain a shoplifting suspect who was resisting arrest.
“You three community heroes not only helped keep a police officer safe, your fast thinking and brave actions contributed to ending the subject’s retail theft spree,” Denham said.
Denham added all three lost their jobs for assisting law enforcement.
Officer Alan Hitchcock received a letter of recognition for handling over 780 service calls in 2022 while being willing to work overtime and swap shifts with other officers so they could spend time with their families. He accumulated 190 hours of overtime through the year.
Certificates of commendation were given out to detectives William Phipps and Haggerty and sergeant David Clary for their investigation in a controlled substance homicide that resulted in arrests and the seizure of controlled substances and illegal firearms.
“The majority of this investigation, to include multiple arrests, was accomplished in less than 24 hours,” Denham said.
Detective Timothy O’Dell also received a certificate of commendation for his investigative work involving the rape of a 13-year-old girl by two adult males. The two initial suspects were ruled out when O’Dell followed up on their alibis, but he was able to identify a third suspect — the victim’s 34-year-old half brother.
“Despite an uncooperative victim, uncooperative suspect and uncooperative mother of the victim, Detective O’Dell was able to establish probable cause and obtain a search warrant for the suspect’s DNA,” Denham said.
DNA analysis confirmed the third suspect committed the rape and he was arrested, along with the victim’s mother for rendering criminal assistance. The victim has been removed from the home and is safe from abuse, Denham said.
Detective Micheal Barela and Officer Deter Voetberg got certificates of commendation for their work in multiple cases throughout the year as well as their professionalism and investigation results.
“(Barela) single-handedly brought down the burglary ring front that was basically breaking into stores and stealing cash machines from Vancouver to Seattle,” Denham said.
Sergeant Carl Buster, detective Barela, Andrew Huerta and Voetberg were given a life-saving award for providing CPR and overdose-reversing Narcan medication to two unresponsive individuals they came across who they suspected ingested cocaine laced with fentanyl.
Though they remained unresponsive, their pulses strengthened and they were taken to a hospital where emergency room doctors stated they would have died if not for the responding officers’ actions.
Officer Kyle Stockdale was also given a life-saving award for his quick application of a tourniquet to the leg of a motorcycle rider involved in a collision who was bleeding excessively. Upon being transported to the hospital, it was discovered the rider had a severed femoral artery.
“If not for officer Stockdale’s immediate application of the tourniquet, there was a high likelihood the victim would have not survived his injury,” Denham said.
Evidence Technician Staci Nunez was given the non-commissioned Employee of the Year award for her handling and organization of police evidence, including receiving a 100% accountability rating in a recent full-inventory evidence audit.