Friends and families of University Police officers gathered in Houston Hall's Bodek Lounge Monday for the Division of Public Safety's first commendation ceremony for exemplary police work. Managing Director of Public Safety Tom Seamon said he hoped the event would allow for the "tremendous efforts, professionalism, and good work of the police force to be recognized in a public forum." He explained that while police officers at other universities often deal primarily with illegal parking or drunk students, Penn's police force have the same difficult responsibilities as members of any other urban police force. During the event, University Police Officers William Dailey and Christopher Kennedy were recognized for "exhibiting heroism under emotionally stressful and physically dangerous circumstances." Dailey was honored for his role in trying to save the life of local peace activist Kathy Change, though he was not successful. When Change set herself on fire October 22 in front of the peace sign on College Green, Dailey saw the fire and ran towards it. As he got closer, Dailey realized that a person was burning and covered Change in his patrol jacket, rolling her on the ground to smother the flames. Kennedy was recognized for his actions during an August 11 incident in which he entered a burning building at 3938 Pine Street and risked his life to help evacuate residents. The ceremony also recognized the department's Special Response Unit, which was established September 30 in response to an increase in the amount of campus crime. University Police Capt. John Richardson credited the members of the unit with 63 arrests over the following seven months and praised their ability to work together as a team. Richardson also praised the department's Investigative Unit for working together to redefine and improve the University Police case management methodology. And Director of Police Operations Maureen Rush honored outgoing PennWatch President Jon Brightbill, a Wharton senior, and incoming President Shane Lipson, an Engineering senior. She called them the "eyes and ears of the police department" and thanked them for their "dedication and devotion to the University and surrounding neighborhood." Approximately 20 individual officers and teams of officers received Commendations of Merit, often for tracking down and apprehending suspects in shootings and robberies. Letters of commendation were also given to several officers, many of whom had assisted community members who then wrote the department to express their appreciation. Executive Vice President John Fry stopped by the ceremony to thank the officers for their hard work -- especially during the recent Spring Fling and Penn Relays festivities. "Your job is difficult," he said to the officers. "It requires you to balance the roles of University official and law enforcement professional." And Seamon thanked the officers' families, whom he said "support our officers," adding that the families suffer "when [University Police officers] can't be home for a holiday and worry about [the officers'] safety on a daily basis."Comments powered by Disqus
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