Cincinnati Rotary Honors Police For Valor and Professionalism

Fourteen members of the Cincinnati Police Department were honored Thursday, April 18, for outstanding actions that took criminals off the streets, created quick response protocols and built stronger police-community relationships.

 The awards were presented by the Rotary Club of Cincinnati and annually recognize valor, achievement, career and department advancement and administrative excellence in the Cincinnati Police Department.  Rotarian Trish Smitson of Hyde Park introduced the program before a crowd of 150 business and community leaders at a luncheon at the Carew Tower.

 The award for Valor went to Officer Adarryl Birch and Police Specialist Ken Byrne of District 5. Birch and Byrne were responding to a 911call to check a resident’s safety in College Hill when they were fired on by a gunman in a vehicle. The officers returned fire and then pursued the gunman on surface streets and interstates before capturing him on a residential street.

Police Chief Eliot Isaac praised Birch’s and Byrnes’s “quick thinking and excellent tactical response” which resulted in no injuries and the removal of a violent criminal from the community.

The award for Superior Achievement went to officers Nicholas Casch, Rasheen Jennings, Scott Brians, William Kinney, Kenneth Dotson, Brandon Dean and Brian Follrod, all members of the District 4 Violent Crime Squad.

The squad was commended for spearheading a multi-jurisdictional effort resulting in removing a violent drug dealer from the community. The squad built a strong case using surveillance, advanced cellular methods and confidential informants as well as cooperation with local agencies including Ohio State Patrol, Springfield Township Police Department, Elmwood Police Department, North College Hill Police Department, Cincinnati Police Department’s SWAT team, and Hamilton County Police Association SWAT team. Isaac said the squad seized 20 high-power firearms, more than $46,000 in cash and 200 grams of heroin and Fentanyl.

The squad is credited with a significant decline in criminal activity as the result of its multiple investigations and strong community policing, said Isaac.

The Career Enhancement/Department Advancement Award went to Sgt. Michael Bell, Sgt. Daniel Cavanaugh, Officer Alex Hasse and Officer Steve Peponis of the Cincinnati Police Academy for initiating an enhanced scenario-based training program to respond to Active Shooter incidents. Officers who dealt with the 2018 shooting incident at the Fifth Third Bank in downtown Cincinnati told Isaac the training was critical to their response.

Bell, Cavanaugh, Hasse and Peponis are recognized experts in Active Shooter Awareness and have provided Active Shooter training at more than 30 businesses and places of worship.

The Administrative Award was presented to Marcella “Marcy” Lamb, department “Timekeeper” dealing with payroll records for close to 150 employees and an unofficial community engagement specialist. “but she is also being honored for her compassion and her heart of gold,” Isaac said. “She has become one of the most beloved employees of the city of Cincinnati,” he said. “she has touched literally thousands of Cincinnatians.”  He said Lamb has strengthened community/police relations with her ready and always personal response to individual and community needs. Lamb has organized community-based events focusing on youth and senior residents, including toy drives and senior dinners. She helps plan support and fund-raising events for the families of fallen officers. Her response to any need in the community or the department is quick, energetic and selfless, Isaac said.

The Rotary Club of Cincinnati initiated the Rotary awards more than a decade ago to honor excellence in key public service professions. Rotary President rick Flynn of Evendale presented award certificates and presented $1,000 to the police department for training support.

Isaac told the crowd that the city has seen a 30% reduction in shootings over the past year. He credits a three prong effort with great partnerships, technology and “having people in the right places.”

 “We’ve got fewer officers so we need to be smart in how we use our resources,” he said.  The police installed audible sensor equipment in 2018 in Avondale, a high crime neighborhood. The sensors can distinguish gunshot sounds from other sounds such as fireworks or car backfires. “Before that audible technology was installed, only 15% of shots were called in to 911,” he said. “Now we are able to respond to 100% of those incidents.” He said Avondale had a dramatic reduction in crime in 2018. Similar technology will be installed in Price Hill this year.