A Richland police officer was among those honored by the state during the first ever Missouri Public Safety Officers Recognition Day.
Assistant Chief Major Jaime Solis received a Public Safety Medal of Merit during a ceremony held Saturday, Oct. 28 by Gov. Eric Greitens in Jefferson City.
According to information from the Missouri Department of Public Safety, a Medal of Merit is “awarded in recognition of brave actions above and beyond the call of normal duty that played a critical role in successfully resolving a situation that endangered public safety.”
The medal is one of Missouri's most prestigious and highly ranked awards for police officers.
“Assistant Chief Solis, we are proud of you and you’re efforts to keep all citizens of Richland safe. You are an exemplary Police Officer. We salute you!” stated a post from the RPD related to the award.
Solis was recognized for an incident on March 24, 2016 in which he was able to talk a suicidal man with a loaded gun into surrendering his weapon without injuring himself or others. The assistant chief’s actions were “above and beyond” because Solis entered the gunman’s room to talk with him.
According to the synopsis from the MDPS, Solis and members of the Tri-County Fire Protection District responded to a residence for a report of a suicidal person.
“A distraught man was shaking uncontrollably as he held a pistol under his chin,” it states.
According to information from the Richland PD, the man - breathing erratically and visibly upset - had his finger inside the trigger guard.
A trained negotiator, Solis attempted to engage the man, but he wasn’t responding. From his position at the doorway, Solis continued calmly talking to the man, trying to stop him from end his life.
Eventually, the gunman requested two firefighters exit the area, which they did, according to the MDPS, leaving only Solis and the gunman. Still unable to engage him, Solis went against his training and entered the gunman’s room. The major’s plan was to forcibly disarm him if negotiations failed.
After continuous negotiation over the next hour and a half, the subject became more communicative and began to discuss his issues. The man finally ejected the loaded round and handed the weapon to Solis.
After securing the weapon, Major Solis continued to communicate with him and offer support, and Solis convinced him to go to the hospital for evaluation and treatment on his own accord.
“At great risk to himself, Major Solis inserted himself into a dangerous position with a distraught gunman, and successfully resolved the situation,” states the MDPS report.
Solis commented, “It was a great honor to stand with these outstanding individuals today with Governor Eric Greitens. The presentation of medals was given for valor,merit and going above and beyond the call of duty either as a first responder or civilian. I would be remiss not to mention all our local Law Enforcement, Fire and EMS who put it on the line everyday. As I received this recognition, my thoughts were with you.”
Solis also thanked the City of Richland, Chief Gary Bates and the officers of the RPD and expressed appreciation for all the well wishes from friends and family.
Others receiving the Medal of Merit Saturday included Derek Chism and Brian Hollensteiner with the Audrain County Sheriff’s Office and Austin Kings, Missouri State Highway Patrol; and Thomas Lake, St. Louis Metropolitan Police Department.
Jason Glendenning and Tyler Zimmerman, Missouri State Highway Patrol, were honored with the Medal of Valor for life-saving actions on the Niangua River on July 16, 2016. Following heavy rain, Sgt. Glendenning and Trooper Zimmerman were deployed on a jet boat in the Niangua River in Dallas County to search for potential flooding victims.
According to the MDPS, “They found a raft with four occupants pinned against a large downed tree. The raft was taking on water. The officers, using their extensive swift-water rescue training, quickly maneuvered the boat and rescued a woman who had fallen out. Next, they maneuvered their craft to rescue a second woman who had been thrown from the raft and was tangled in the tree and could not keep her head above water. After getting all four boaters to safety, Sergeant Glendenning and Trooper Zimmerman returned to the downed tree to cut down large branches that were a continuing danger. While working on the tree, another raft with five occupants was swept up into the tree. One occupant was immediately ejected and the raft was sinking. Working as a team, the officers rescued all of them, and then saved a kayaker and a young girl on an inner tube who had been ejected and entangled in the tree and ropes. Acting swiftly and skillfully as a team, Glendenning and Zimmerman bravely saved the lives of several people in highly treacherous flooding conditions.”
The Medal of Valor is Missouri's highest award recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life.
Others receiving the Medal of Valor included Adam Brannin, Jason Francis and Rusty Rives, Joplin Police Department; and Eli Dorsey and Brandon Sherman, Gladstone Department of Public Safety.
Director’s Leadership Medal: Awarded at the command or staff level to someone whose demonstrated actions in the areas of community-oriented engagement and collaborative community-based activities have promoted an environment of greater safety, security and cooperation for community members.
•Jeff Lofton, Christian County Sheriff’s Office, Patrol Division Commander
•Garon P. Mosby, St. Louis Fire Department Command Staff Officer for Public Affairs, Community Engagement and Special Initiatives
•Tommy St. John, Clay County Sheriff’s Office, Lead Tracker for Clay County Veterans and Drug Courts
Hall of Fame Award: Presented to a senior or retired public safety professional in recognition of an exemplary career of service to the state of Missouri evidenced by devoting their talents to improving the safety and security of the state’s citizens.
•Chief Michael T. Force (Retired), Lake Saint Louis Police Department
Public Safety Civilian Partnership Award: Awarded to a civilian who has provided valuable or courageous assistance to members of a Missouri public safety agency in an emergency situation.
•David Lyman, Building Rehabilitation Contractor, nominated by Kansas City Police Department
•Kenneth R. Belew, UPS Driver, nominated by Franklin County Sheriff’s Office
For more information on these awards and related incidents, go to dps.mo.gov.
Nominations are now open for heroic acts performed during 2017 and exceptional service that advances public safety in Missouri. Nominations must be received by March 31, 2018. Nominating forms are available on the Missouri Department of Public Safety website at https://dps.mo.gov/medal/.