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(Photo from Stacy Ritchey)

More than four dozen police officers and public safety personnel received recognition in the Division of Public Safety's biannual commendation ceremony for their efforts ranging from combatting thefts to helping Penn community members. 

Taking place at Claire M. Fagin Hall on Nov. 14, the ceremony also included the swearing-in of seven new police officers to the Penn Police force, as well as the promotion of two officers to sergeant and the reassignment of one officer to detective. 

About 19 separate commendations were given out to individuals and groups of officers at Thursday's ceremony.

University City District Safety Ambassador Brianna Murray was commended for helping rescue occupants from a burning building this summer. Murray was patrolling the district when she saw thick smoke a block over from her location and went over to investigate. 

There was a fire on the second story of a vacant building, but Murray saw that there were occupants in the adjacent building and assisted the family in evacuating the building while the fire department responded.

(Photo from Stacy Ritchey)

Detectives William McCullough and Joseph Abruzzese were commended for noticing and arresting a package thief. They were driving back from patrolling on Oct. 31 when they noticed a man get off his bike and pick up packages from doorsteps. The complainant did not know or recognize the suspect, who was then arrested.

Detective Valdo Walker was commended for successfully arresting the suspect in a series of thefts from Leidy Laboratories this summer through installing security cameras and reviewing footage.  

A group of officers and dispatchers, including Dispatcher Cordell Bennett, Officer William Reilly, and Dispatcher Joseph Valdivia, were commended for their work in helping a distressed student seek psychological help. 

The caller, a student living in on-campus housing, told the dispatcher that she was experiencing suicidal thoughts. She provided her first name and said she did not want to go back to the hospital. 

(Photo from Stacy Ritchey)

Bennett held a 21-minute phone conversation with her and was eventually able to obtain her last name and therefore her location. Bennett subsequently dispatched officers to approach the student and asked the student to sit down and speak with an officer. 

Detective Rahsaan Haynes was commended after identifying a former Cosi employee who stole more than $1,600 after she did not turn in the keys.

The commendations were in part read by Deputy Chief of Tactical and Emergency Readiness Michael Fink. 

At the ceremony, Vice President for Public Safety Maureen Rush announced that Penn DPS was ranked number one by Security Magazine's Security 500 rankings in the Higher Education Sector for the 13th consecutive year.

DPS has 180 personnel, 121 of which are Penn Police officers, according to its website. 

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