Olympia police honor their own

Staff writerMay 14, 2014 

Olympia Police Officers Kory Pearce (left) and Jeff Herbig enjoy a laugh together after being honored Wednesday with their department's Life Saving and Officer of the Year awards respectively in the Olympia City Hall chambers.

STEVE BLOOM — The Olympian Buy Photo

On April 11, a suicidal 16-year-old girl standing on the edge of the Eastside Bridge, above Interstate 5, in Olympia, let go of the railing and fell backwards.

Olympia Police Officer Kory Pearce was among a group of officers trying to talk her down. Pearce said he remembers her telling him "there's no turning back," as he grabbed her by the shirt and pulled her to safety.

Pearce, who has 22 years under his belt with OPD, and has undergone training to deescalate crises, said it was by far the most intense experience he has ever had with a suicidal person.

Later that day, Pearce said he visited the woman at the crisis unit at a local hospital. "She looked at me and said thank you, which to me, makes it all worthwhile," Pearce said.

The 16-year-old girl is now stable, and is receiving mental health treatment, Community Youth Services CEO Charles Shelan said.

Olympia Police Chief Ronnie Roberts presented Pearce with a lifesaving award Wednesday.

Pearce is just one of the police officers and civilians who were honored during OPD's annual awards ceremony at Olympia City Hall.

Officer Jeff Herbig, who was named Police Officer of the Year, is another.

Herbig, who has been with OPD for 10 years and grew up in Olympia, volunteered to be the first officer to restore downtown walking patrols last year.

People who live and work downtown have said that when budget cuts ended downtown walking patrols in 2010, it meant an increase in petty crime.

That's all changed since Herbig turned his downtown walking patrol into a bike patrol starting in June of last year.

In the past year, Herbig has forged relationships with business owners downtown, and cracked down on street crimes, including drug dealing, Chief Roberts said.

Roberts added that Herbig actively worked with the Olympia Public Library when they had issues, including with IV drug users in their bathrooms. Herbig helped clean up the area around the Artesian Well when it became a magnet for criminal activity.

And drawing on his experience as a detective, Herbig helps fellow officers with major felony cases that have crossed into the boundaries of downtown Olympia, Roberts said.

"I've never seen him say 'no,' or 'I'm too busy,'" Roberts said of Herbig.

Herbig said the officer of the year award is a huge honor, particularly because a recipient has to be nominated by a fellow officer. So in order to win the award, an officer must have the respect of his or her peers, he said.

Herbig said he loves working on bike patrols downtown, particularly since the city has received funds to return another officer, Rob Beckwell, to walking patrols alongside him. The downtown walking and bike patrols make a huge difference, Herbig said.

"Getting out of the day to day policing and being able to interact with folks downtown, your realize how important that connection is," Herbig said. "It's really empowering for everybody."

Other awards recipients included:

Detective Bryan Houser, who assisted Hoquiam police during a SWAT callout last year.

Officer Doug Curtright, who was awarded for his work as a school resource officer.

Civilian Vicki McCarley, who received a citizen's award for helping evict a sex offender when he occupied a foreclosed property and turned it into "a party house," Deputy Police Chief Steve Nelson said.

Civilians Lynn Foley, and Cheryl and Joe McCauley, who helped alert police to suspicious activity in their neighborhood earlier this year, leading to arrests of suspects who are allegedly tied to 50 to 60 residential burglaries.

Sgt. Sam Costello, who has helped implement a new training program for recently-hired police officers.

Civilian Madison Sola Del Vigo, who works in OPD's records division.

Olympia Corrections Sgt. Gregg Baker.

Civilian Amy Cleveland, who has helped work to revamp the process for hiring new police officers.

Civilians Jon Maynard, Jeremy Adams, Kimberly Nevling and Will Hart, who run OPD's Information Technology Department.


Jeremy Pawloski: 360-754-5445; jpawloski@theolympian.com

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