On Veterans Day, members from all levels of Penn’s safety and security community gathered for a night of remembrance, initiation and commendation.
The Division of Public Safety officials, Philadelphia Police, security officers, civilians and a dog or two made up the eclectic crowd Wednesday night. After a brief introduction by Deputy Chief of Tactical and Emergency Readiness Michael Fink, University Chaplain Rev. Charles Howard gave an invocation. His words touched on the importance of the bravery of both our armed forces and police officers, and the freedom that bravery provides for us all. A touching video presentation was then played, honoring all those who work for and with DPS who have served and continue to serve their country in the armed forces.
Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush then took the stage and thanked the wide array of attendees and participants, from new Athletic Director Grace Calhoun to the DPS Human Resources department staff.
A young boy in the community was then called up to the stage: Logan Mast had requested that in lieu of birthday presents, his family help him give thanks to the police officers and K-9 units that keep him safe. Mast, with the help of his family, set up a GoFundMe that has so far helped six individual K-9 units — the Penn Police’s along with five others in Delaware County. He was presented with a Civilian Appreciation Certificate by Penn Police Officer Sean Mackey and K-9 Officer Zzisa.
Urban Park Manager Kris Kealey was then presented with the Penn Appreciation Plaque for her years of outstanding support of DPS and Penn Police. Rush made particular mention of the work Kealey has done to keep Hey Day safe, and, more challengingly, clean up afterwards, referring to her as an “honorary member of DPS every Hey Day.”
Penn Police’s five newest officers, Ryan James, Francis Toth, Elan Thomas, Marc Laing and John McKenna were sworn in. The new officers received a standing ovation as well as a welcoming bark from K-9 Officer Zzisa.
Next came the presentation of commendations and awards. The scope of DPS and Penn Police was apparent in the awards given to detectives, officers, fire fighters, civilians and other security professionals.
Rev. Howard, alongside Fink, presented an award to Chief of Fire and Emergency Services Eugene Janda for some of his team’s very specific work this semester. Earlier this year, members of Penn’s Hindu Student Council hoped to celebrate Diwali, or the Hindu “Festival of Lights,” with some fireworks. As he had done in the past with Christian votive candles and Jewish menorahs, Janda and his staff found a way to help the students celebrate their faith as they saw fit.
The awards continued, with commendations given for a wide variety of actions including suicide prevention, rescues of drowning victims and intense investigative work. An AlliedBarton officer received praise for rescuing two children from an abandoned car, while others were recognized for their quick reactions and assistance to Penn Police.
Finally, a very special award was given to Daryl Richards, who has been with AlliedBarton for 20 years, 15 of them at Penn. Richards would be familiar to students as the smiling face at the main entrance to College Hall, just outside Penn President Amy Gutmann’s office. Rush read a letter from Gutmann commending Richard’s perennially positive attitude, as well as the feelings of safety and security he provides. “We couldn’t be fonder, or more grateful,” the letter said.
In her closing statements to the room, Rush emphasized the importance of the working relationships DPS and Penn Police have with the myriad groups represented within the ceremony. “We don’t do it alone,” Rush said.
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