OPOA honors Salem police officers’ extraordinary efforts

Saving lives and capturing armed criminals earned special recognition to several Salem police officers by the Oregon Peace Officers Association last month.

At the association’s annual awards banquet, the officers received awards, including citations for lifesaving, distinguished service, public service, medal of honor and medal of valor. Here are the citations from the OPOA:

Medal of Honor to Sgt. Jason Vanmeter and Officers Brian Bidiman and Ben Ruddell

(Left to right) Jesse VanMeter, father of Sgt. Jason Van Meter who is currently deployed in Afghanistan, Officer Ben Ruddell, Officer Brian Bidiman
(Left to right) Jesse VanMeter, father of Sgt. Jason Van Meter who is currently deployed in Afghanistan, Officer Ben Ruddell, Officer Brian Bidiman

On September 13, 2012, Salem Police officers were dispatched to a residence in North Salem on a report of a suspicious activity. The caller reported an argument between a male and a female at this location; it was also reported that the male may be armed with a rifle. When officers arrived on the scene, a male fled on foot. Officers located a rifle near where the male had been standing. Through witness interviews and determined police work, the officers were able to identify the person who fled.

Further investigation showed the suspect was a convicted felon, which prohibited him from possessing firearms. Additionally, the suspect had outstanding felony warrants for his arrest.

The officers considered the suspect to be a continuing risk to the community. Unwilling to leave a wanted felon on the street, officers continued to conduct interviews. Eventually they were able to determine the suspect had entered a specific residence to hide from the police. Officers identified the renter and obtained consent to enter the house for the purpose of locating a potentially armed, wanted felon with warrants for his arrest.

Ruddell, Van Meter, and Bidiman entered the house and, while searching the residence, the officers encountered the suspect hiding in a closet. When Ruddell opened the closet door, the suspect pointed a handgun directly at Ruddell and pulled the trigger. Ruddell was able to take evasive action and return fire. Bidiman and Van Meter also returned fire, striking the suspect multiple times. The suspect was subsequently taken into custody and transported to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. He was treated and transported to the Marion County jail.

Ruddell sustained gunpowder burns to his arm which did not require medical treatment, but clearly illustrates the close quarters in which this incident occurred.

Medal of Valor to Cpl. Ryan Demmer

On October 21, 2012, at about 1830 hours, officers of the Salem Police Department responded to a report of a suicidal subject. It was reported via a 911 call that a young man in his early 20’s was suicidal and armed with a handgun. Numerous officers responded to the scene. On arrival it was initially believed the suicidal subject

Cpl. Ryan Demmer
Cpl. Ryan Demmer

was inside the residence at this location. While the on-scene personnel were developing a tactical plan for dealing with the subject, inside the residence a single gunshot was heard. The officers were faced with the possibility that the armed person was not in the residence but was in the neighborhood firing shots. Shortly after hearing the single gunshot, officers saw a subject matching the description provided by the caller, approaching them on foot.

The suspect continued to approach the officers in a confrontational manner. Several officers gave the subject commands to stop and show his hands. The subject had his left hand behind his back in his waistband area, refusing to comply with the orders to stop. Instead, the subject moved his left hand from behind his back. Multiple officers on the scene reported seeing a revolver in the subject’s left hand as he continued to advance on the officers. Cpl. Ryan Demmer ultimately fired his duty handgun, striking the subject twice. The armed subject was pronounced deceased at the scene.

This incident occurred on a crowded residential street. There were numerous innocent civilians watching the police activity from the street, their front yards, and picture windows. Demmer’s quick and decisive action, at close quarters in the face of life-threatening danger resolved this tragic incident with a minimal loss of life and injury to the innocent residents of the neighborhood. The investigation revealed that the weapon was loaded, and the subject appeared to be intent on confronting the officers in a manner likely to result in death and serious police injury.

Public Service Award to Officer Larry Shryer

On January 10th, 2013, the local Subway was robbed in the city of Salem. During the robbery it was reported that the subject had brandished a gun and fired at least one round during the incident. The subject was not apprehended and was still being sought. The video surveillance and photos were shared with officers during patrol briefings.

Jesse VanMeter father of award winner Sergeant Jason Van Meter who is currently deployed in Afghanistan, Officer Ben Ruddell, Officer Brian Bidiman

On January 14th Officer Larry Shryer looked over the photos and information from this robbery prior to hitting the streets. While patrolling the streets Officer Shryer observed a subject walking on the street wearing a jacket that exactly matched the jacket worn by the alleged suspect the night of the robbery. As Officer Shryer drove closer to the subject he determined that the subject appeared to be the same subject as in the surveillance photos as provided in briefing. Officer Shryer immediately called for a cover unit prior to making contact with the subject.

Prior to cover officers arriving in the area Officer Shryer determined he needed to make contact with the subject before he had a chance to run or escape. As Officer Shryer called out to the subject, the subject immediately placed his hand inside his right pocket of his jacket. Before the subject could retrieve whatever he had in his pocket, Officer Shryer had his service weapon pointed at the subject. The subject claimed that he was only going for a beer; once cover units arrived, the subject was searched, and a loaded handgun was found in his right jacket pocket along with a can of beer. Detectives later interviewed the subject, and the subject was later charged with the Subway robbery.

Officer Shryer distinguished himself with his actions on this case and prevented any further risk to the public by apprehending the suspect.

Public Service Award to Communications Specialist Tina Holt

On January 27 Communication Specialist Tina Holt answered a call from a suicidal subject. The caller asked

Communications Specialist Tina Holt
Communications Specialist Tina Holt

the police to come to his house, because he was going to commit suicide. Holt was able to obtain the caller’s address as well as his location on the property. Holt also confirmed he had a loaded shotgun. The caller had prepared an advanced directive regarding what he wanted done with his remains, and he wanted the police to come and “clean up the mess” before his girlfriend came home.

Holt immediately built a rapport with the caller while deputies were responding. The caller admitted he had a

mental issue which caused him to fixate on things. The caller’s key concern was over-fertilizing several acres of a Filbert orchard that had been in the family for over 40 years. He thought he had killed the trees and poisoned the environment. Holt had no knowledge of the fertilization needs and growth habits of Filbert orchards, yet she actively listened to the caller and kept him engaged in conversation. Holt coordinated with the deputies arriving and was able to direct them to the caller. At Holt’s request, the caller put down his shotgun and surrendered to the arriving deputies.

As the investigation unfolded, it was realized just how serious the caller was on taking his own life. The caller had completed his will and wrote out a “do not resuscitate” order. When deputies asked the caller what kept him from following through with his plan, his response was Tina Holt.

Distinguished Service Award to Detective Sean Bennett

Det. Sean Bennett has been with the Salem Police Department for nearly 18 years and is currently assigned to

Detective Sean Bennett
Detective Sean Bennett

the Street Crimes Unit. Bennett has many years of experience in drug investigations and enforcement. He is the “go-to guy” for his expertise. Bennett’s passion is prevention and education, and he has developed a series of “first-class” presentations on drug addiction. Those presentations focus on prescription drug abuse and the nexus of that to heroin and addiction. To develop the information in these presentations, Bennett has spent countless hours talking with informants, drug abusers, addicts, other law enforcement officials, public health officials, community members, and families of those affected by drug abuse and addiction.

Bennett has developed a series of questions which he uses to debrief addicts and informants into a primary presentation model which he can expand or contract dependent upon the audience to which he will be presenting to.

Bennett has presented his information and findings to dozens of community groups, parent organizations, medical professional groups, civic groups, and many officers. His efforts have undoubtedly raised the awareness of attendees, with the goal of generating community involvement to have a sustained impact on the community’s problem in the greater Salem area.

Life Saving Award to Cpl. Darren Mumey

On January 13, 2013, Corporal Darren Mumey responded to a vehicle accident. Upon arriving Mumey discovered the driver of the vehicle going in and out of consciousness and was possibly having a seizure.

Mumey checked the driver’s pulse and discovered that there wasn’t one. He immediately began doing CPR by doing chest compressions, and he continued doing them until additional medics arrived. From the CPR efforts started by Mumey, medics were able to obtain a heartbeat on scene prior to transporting her to Salem Hospital.

According to Salem Fire’s Jennifer Pratt, “upon our arrival Mumey was performing CPR.  I saw that the patient regained pulses after the second defibrillation by our crews, and that’s not usually going to happen if adequate chest compressions have not been done to maintain oxygen circulation to the heart and brain in the minutes following cardiac arrest.” She continued to say the chances of successful defibrillation and survival decreases by 10% for every minute that passes without good chest compressions during this type of cardiac arrest. It is clear that, due to Mumey’s quick actions, he helped in saving a human life.

[Salem Police Chief Jerry Moore accepted the award on behalf of Cpl. Mumey.]

Life Saving Award to Sgt. Stephen Smith, Cpl. Dustin Wann and Officers Brian Kohlmeyer and Scotty Nowning

Officer Brian Kohlmeyer, Officer Scotty Nowning, Cpl. Dustin Wann and Sgt. Stephen Smith
Officer Brian Kohlmeyer, Officer Scotty Nowning, Cpl. Dustin Wann and Sgt. Stephen Smith

On January 24 Salem Police officers responded to the Marion Street Bridge on a suicidal subject who was going to jump off of the bridge. Officer Scotty Nowning was first to arrive, followed closely by Sgt. Stephen Smith, Cpl. Dustin Wann, and Officer Brian Kohlmeyer.

Nowning immediately established verbal contact with the suicidal person who was obviously distraught. The subject was standing on the outside of the bridge railing. He had tied what appeared to be a rope (later determined to be a heavy-duty extension cord) around his neck and then around a metal sign post attached to the bridge railing. The suicidal person was very upset and appeared to have made the decision to jump but wanted to make sure we told his son goodbye for him.

Nowning was able to get him focused on other things and away from the thought of jumping. The officers were concerned that the suicidal person was going to jump, but they were also concerned he might lose his footing and accidentally slip. The man also admitted to ingesting a large amount of meth earlier in the day.

Officers could see the effects the meth was starting to have on the person’s footing, and the rain was making the surface wet and even more dangerous. It was believed by the officers that the suicidal person would likely slip and fall even though Nowning was making some progress. If officers did not act quickly the man would surely fall.

As Nowning continued to speak with the suicidal person, Smith initiated a rush toward him while Wann and Kohlmeyer tackled him. Smith immediately cut the extension cord, and the suicidal subject was quickly secured and immediately placed in the care of the medic unit for transport to the Salem Hospital.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *