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Honorees awarded at Shawnee Police Foundation Benefit Dinner

Vicky O. Misa
During the Shawnee Police Foundation Benefit Dinner several honorees were presented with awards. SPD Cpl. Greg VanBrunt was named 2019 Officer of the Year. Several others were given awards, as well. Kelly Ogle, news anchor for Channel 9, served as master of ceremonies for the event.

On Friday, during the annual Shawnee Police Foundation Benefit Dinner, Kelly Ogle, news anchor for Channel 9, served as master of ceremonies as many — officers and civilians alike — were honored with awards.

Certificates of Appreciation

In September, during a standoff, the Red Cross was notified of the situation and they alerted Love's Country Store, which provided lunch for officers on call during the lengthy incident.

Susan Morris, with the Red Cross, and Vanessa Willbanks, Love's general manager, were given certificates of appreciation for their efforts.

Civilian Service Award

In December, when an SPD officer responded to a disturbance call, civilian Rebecca Cowan came to the aid of the officer as the suspect resisted arrest.

Cowan received the Civilian Service Award for her act of support.

Letters of Commendation

In September, Dispatcher Rachell Erickson and Dispatcher Julie Daniels handled numerous calls during a vehicle hit-and-run call.

SPD Cpl. Beau Bohuslavicky and Cpl. Dennis Rains, recognized the broadcasted name and checked the last known address with Sgt. Charles Swantek and Cpl. Gary Moore.

Shots were fired at the officers and SWAT Team members Cpl. Cody Gibson, Cpl. Greg VanBrunt and Cpl. Zachary Thompson arrived to assist. Despite numerous shots fired, the perimeter remained maintained.

“The level of calmness and professionalism displayed by these dispatchers and officers during the incident brings credit to the SPD and the citizens of Shawnee,” Ogle said of the group as they received their awards.

Life Saving Awards

In February, SPD Officer Joshua Pankowsky responded to a medical emergency. Finding the victim unconscious, he began CPR and continued chest compressions until EMS arrived on the scene. The victim was then transported to the hospital, and survived the cardiac arrest.

“Officer Pankowsky's quick response to this medical emergency reflects great credit to the SPD and Shawnee,” Ogle said at the event.

In October, Dispatcher Julie Daniels received a 911 call from a woman who said her husband had collapsed and was not breathing. Daniels walked the caller through CPR instructions over the phone. When REACT arrived the victim was in full cardiac arrest. He was transported to the hospital. In November, the Shawnee Communications Center was given an update that the patient had fully recovered, due to the appropriate medical services response Daniels had offered.

Sentinel of the Year

Volunteers In Police Service (VIPS) or SPD Sentinels worked more than 2,000 hours in 2019.

One in particular was honored for her service.

Susan Roberson has served since 2014, taking her volunteer job very seriously and is always ready to help, Ogle said during the event.

“Susan is almost always available and all it takes is a phone call and she is on her way to wherever the department needs her to go and do whatever they ask of her,” Ogle said. “Susan has volunteered more than 200 hours this year for the SPD.”

SPF Board Member of the Year

Diane Smith was named Board Member of the Year. Smith has been a member of the SPF for several years. She has donated countless hours of her time keeping the foundation's finances organized and up to date.

“She can always be counted on to go the extra mile,” Ogle said.

Civilian of the Year

Throughout the year, Haley Wright has assisted with the implementation and changes within the Communications Center regarding training, staffing, technology and professionalism. She has taken the initiative to create in-service training, assisted scheduling, and maintained positive interagency cooperation, Ogle said.

“Ms. Wright views changes within the 9-1-1 industry as an opportunity for growth,” Ogle said. “She strives to be a positive influence for others and has actively promoted the SPD.”

She works hard to make sure dispatchers are well trained and they have the tools to provide the best services to the citizens of Shawnee, he said.

Officer of the Year

Cpl. Greg VanBrunt was named 2019 Officer of the Year.

VanBrunt began his career at the Shawnee Police Department at the end of 2010.

This year he is assigned to Municipal Court, but also has served in other areas, like bicycle, SWAT and truancy.

Among his achievements, VanBrunt established the SPD's Explorer program, which works with local youth interested in becoming police officers.

VanBrunt also mentored local youth through the Big Brothers/Big Sisters program in Shawnee. Taking part in the BB/BS annual bowling tournament/fundraiser, Bowl for Kids, VanBrunt's team has been the top fundraiser for three consecutive years.

“VanBrunt is also know for doing little things that often go unnoticed,” Master of Ceremonies Kelly Ogle said at the event.

It is not uncommon to see Greg stop by the Shawnee Senior Center to visit; this has enabled Greg to meet more citizens that may not ever get to know local police officers, he said.

Fundraising for the foundation

The mission of the Shawnee Police Foundation is to provide equipment and training for the Shawnee Police Department that is not otherwise provided.

Some of the items that the SPF secures for the SPD are:

• an automated fingerprint system

• radar equipment

• crime scene training

• upgraded computers

• a boat for the lake patrol

• training simulators

• patrol bicycles

• body video cameras

• ballistic helmets

• ballistic SWAT vests

• cell phone forensics tools

• motorcycles

To donate to the SPF, make checks payable to Shawnee Police Foundation, and send them to SPF, P.O. Box 32, Shawnee, Oklahoma, 74802-0032.