The Shawnee Police Foundation on Tuesday night named Cpl. Jay Keehn as the Shawnee Police Department's Officer of the Year.
Keehn, a member of the force for the past five years, is currently assigned to the department COPS program, which is a position opened by a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Justice to put more officers in a community.
Keehn, when attending neighborhood watch meeting or speaking with citizens, often finds the chief complaint from residents involves drugs and drug houses, so he has tried to intensify his focus in that area of crime fighting.
As a result, he has initiated a number of drug investigations, such as one in the 500 block of West Rosa last year that led to a trafficking bust of crack cocaine and the recovery of stolen weapons.
"I'm really humbled by the whole deal — it's hard to feel really deserving," Keehn said after receiving his award. "Everything we do as police department is the result of a team effort. I've been really lucky to get to work with such outstanding officers here at the Shawnee Police Department — it's such a great department."
Keehn said all of the surrounding law enforcement agencies in this area are outstanding to work with and he's thankful to have so many officers who have helped mentor him.
"I hope I can keep coming to work and doing a good job for this community," Keehn added.
Cpl. Keehn was described as a motivated officer who goes the extra mile for citizens. During one case, Cpl. Keehn rode with the mother of a kidnapping victim to the money drop off point, ensuring her safety and resulting in the release of the victim and the arrest of the suspect, the award citation reads.
The following awards also were presented during the evening.
• The SPF Board Member of the Year Award was renamed in honor of a founding board who died in February. The S.D. Hackett Memorial Board Member of the Year award was presented to Ken Stafford.
• A commendation was awarded to two detectives — Cpl. Charles Swantek and Cpl. Jason Crouch for their work in a homicide case involving a man stabbed at his home, 709 E. 11th. During the investigation it was determined the man was stabbed and his body set on fire. Initially with no suspect, the diligent efforts of the Criminal Investigative Division, particularly Swantek and Crouch, led to a suspect being identified, arrested and the murder weapon found in a five-hour period, with Swantek's interview leading to a confession in the case.
• Honored with the Sentinel of the Year award was Dawn Ramsey, who has been a member since October 2011, volunteering 1,803 hours for the department. Because of her efforts, she is now in a part-time position in the Municipal Court area.
Page 2 of 3 - • Honored as the Civilian Employee of the Year was Christina Oldham, who is the communications manager in the 911 center, and has helped improve the relationships between officers and dispatchers as they've worked through difficult times with staffing shortages in dispatch.
• A citation honored Quality Tunnel Car Wash, which allows officers to wash patrol cars at no charge.
• A commendation award honored Cpl. James Woods for his work in a February 2012 homicide case involving a stabbing at Chapel Ridge apartments. He was able to negotiate with the suspect by phone which led police to the suspect's location and an arrest.
• A group of officers involved in a case on North Broadway following attempts to serve a felony warrant. The suspect allegedly slammed the door in an officer's face and locked himself in a safe room. Crews worked more than seven hours to try to breach the safe room. Officers, along with firefighters, worked the unique situation. Honored with a commendation for their efforts were Sgt. Heath Streater, Sgt. Freeland Wood, Sgt. Lloyd Fulton, Cpl. Casey Vague, Cpl. Andrew Terry, Officer Greg VanBrunt, Officer Dustin Spiwak, Officer Nathan Helm, Officer Dennis Rains, Lt. Rick Greenland, as well as Sheriff's Warrant Commander Chad Pope.
Chief Frantz also presented two special awards in honor of events this past year.
Many years ago as he worked narcotics on the streets, Frantz told the crowd he had a knack for finding dope dealers and others involved in drug dealing, which earned him the nickname of "The Shark." To honor officers who go above and beyond with narcotics enforcement, Frantz gave the first "Shark" award Tuesday night to Cpl. Andrew Terry for his narcotics enforcement efforts.
Frantz, who said he is very proud of officers and their work in narcotics investigations, said there's already competition brewing for this award next year.
Another special award was the "Cheeseburger and Banana Shake" award, which honored Cpl. George Stafford.
Stafford, while negotiating with a barricaded person inside a home, talked with the man who requested a cheeseburger and banana shake.
With that in hand, Stafford was able to coax the individual to the door to see he didn't have a weapon, and then Stafford, with quick backup, was able to take the suspect in custody, thereby ending the standoff situation.
Speaker for the evening was Mike Bosley of Beams Industries, Inc., an Oklahoma City company that manufactures seat belt materials. Using a roll of seat belt webbing passed around the banquet room as an illustration, he said the strong webbing is engineered to do amazing things. As it connected people in the room, he said the power of interconnectedness allows everyone to achieve their potential and make the world a better place.
Page 3 of 3 - If someone is involved in a crash and doesn't have on a seat belt, that seat belt is as "useless as paper," he said.
The Shawnee Police Foundation raised $34,000 last year, Emcee Marty Lewis reported, which was used to purchase items for the police department, including six ballistic vests and enough ballistic helmets for every officer on the force.
In the past, the foundation has helped the department with the purchase of equipment including radars, tasers, mini cameras, raining and other items.
Chief Russell Frantz, in closing for the evening, shared good news that through an accreditation process, with inspectors on site last week, it appears the work of officers, dispatchers and support personnel is leading to a "thumbs up" for the Shawnee Police Department to become the state's ninth accredited police department.
"I'm very proud of my officers and my staff," Frantz said.
An official announcement on accreditation is expected sometime in May, he added.