Thirteen Biloxi police officers were presented Distinguished Service Medals this morning for exceptional service in the line of duty.
The awards, presented by Mayor A.J. Holloway and Police Chief John Miller, recognized officers for heroic acts in Hurricane Isaac last year -- rescuing homeowners from a flooding neighborhood in Woolmarket and rescuing distressed boaters -- and for confronting an armed robber fleeing D'Iberville.
"These medals," Miller said later, "are given for exceptional performance in the line of duty and under complicated, unusual or hazardous conditions where the officer used excellent judgment and demonstrated exemplary dedication to the police mission."
The officers receiving the awards were Sgt. Christopher Deback, Sgt Timothy McKaig, Ptn. Robbin Peters, Ptn Reuben Sabio, Ptn. Eugene Palmer, Ptn. Jason Gruich, Ptn. Frank Taranto, lnv. Michael Brennan, Sgt. Ronnie Lessner, Ptn. Mitch Roberts, Ptn. Lewis Beck, Ptn. Michael Wheeler and Acting Sgt. Darrell Montiforte.
Here are the individual circumstances of each case, as chronicled by Capt Jim Adamo, the BPD's chief of patrol:
--- On the evening of Aug. 29, 2012 during Hurricane Isaac, extensive flooding was reported in the Timber Creek neighborhood. Sgt. Christopher DeBack, Sgt. Tim McKaig, Officer Wayne Miller, Officer Robbin Peters, Officer Reuben Sabio, Officer Eugene Palmer, Officer Jason Gruich, Officer Frank Taranto, Inv. David Moore and Inv. Michael Brennan were dispatched to the area. Upon their arrival, it was clear the situation was dangerous for the residents. The streets were filled with rushing water and its level was noticeably rising. Showing tremendous dedication to their profession and concern for the safety of the residents, these officers entered the rushing water. They used trucks, walked, and swam
through six-feet-deep water to reach and rescue nearly 70 stranded citizens.
--- On Aug. 29, 2012 during Hurricane Isaac, while going in service, Acting Sgt. Darrell Montiforte heard dispatch send out a call concerning a sailboat that had struck the Popp's Ferry Bridge. He responded to the bridge to assess any damage that the sail boat may have caused to the bridge. Upon his arrival he discovered that the sailboat had in fact struck the bridge and also discovered that the boat was occupied by a man that had tried to ride out the storm on board the boat. Without regard for his own safety Acting Sgt. Montiforte, while holding onto the rail of the bridge in 50- to 60-mph winds, was able to grab the gentleman and pull him off of the boat and onto the bridge.
--- While conducting patrol duties within the City of Biloxi, Officer Louis Beck and Officer Michael Wheeler were notified of an armed robbery suspect entering the city from D'Iberville via I-110. Biloxi officers immediately took up strategic positions along all possible exit routes the suspect could take. A Biloxi officer was able to deploy a tire deflation device in the path of the suspect vehicle at I-110 and U.S. 90. Once the tires were deflated, the suspect vehicle continued on U.S. 90 with Officer Beck falling in behind. The vehicle stopped at Suter Place and U.S. 90, and Officer Beck positioned his vehicle behind the suspect vehicle while Officer Wheeler took up a position north of Officer Beck. The suspect charged toward Officer Beck with a large knife in an overhead attack position at which time Officers Beck and Wheeler used lethal means to stop the immediate threat.
--- On Aug. 29 2012, during Hurricane Isaac, the Biloxi Police Department received information from the U.S. Coast Guard station in Mobile, Alabama that a boat was in distress on the Biloxi Back Bay. Sgt. Ronnie Lessner and Officer James "Mitch" Roberts were working the night shift and responded to the bay near Kennedy Lane. There they found a 44-foot motor yacht, about 5O feet from land, being battered against the seawall. An elderly couple and their 48-year-old son were trapped aboard the yacht. Sgt. Lessner and Officer Roberts tied themselves with a safety rope and waded into the water and successfully rescued the family.
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To see more than a hundred photos from the ceremony,