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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 9, 2021
On June 8, 2021, the Springfield Police Department Leadership Council held its annual departmental awards ceremony to honor the outstanding work of SPD staff and community members. This year, for the first time, unit-wide awards were presented to recognize the exceptional teamwork of the SPD Homicide Response Team (HRT) and Violent Crimes Unit as well as the SPD Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET). Also presented was the newly renamed Mark K Priebe Community Service Award, now named in recognition of the continued dedication to community service by SPD Officer Mark Priebe.
Each award is decided on through a vote by SPD Leadership Council, which is comprised of a team of ten SPD employees that have been elected by their peers. The following units and individuals were presented with awards:
Homicide Response Team (HRT) / Violent Crimes Unit (VCU) - Meritorious Unit Citation
In 2020, the Violent Crimes Unit investigated the highest number of violent deaths in Springfield’s history, including the tragic death of Officer Chris Walsh. In June alone, the VCU investigated six violent death incidents.
The detectives that responded to these incidents were either homicide detectives or detectives on the Homicide Response Team. It was not uncommon for these investigators to work over 24 hours on the initial investigations before going home. Their professionalism, investigative prowess, and drive to bring justice to the victims were unmatched. During these investigations, civilian Computer Forensic Analysts played a vital role and were always available to assist with the collection of digital and electronic evidence. The actions of all involved showed an intelligent and determined effort beyond what is reasonably expected and undoubtedly had a positive impact on the community. To date, investigators have been able to clear 75% of these cases.
Narcotics Enforcement Team (NET) - Meritorious Unit Citation
For their efforts leading to the arrests of large-scale drug distributors and seizure of deadly narcotics.
Special Investigations Unit Officer – Command Commendation
In 2020 this officer investigated a drug ring involved in a multi-state operation selling heroin and fentanyl. The months-long investigation consisted of hours of surveillance, traffic stops on suspects, and search warrants. The officer showed great patience, communication, cooperation, and investigative determination to bring this case to closure and prevent the distribution of the seized fentanyl in Springfield.
Officer Ethan Millican – Life Saving Award
On March 15, 2020, Officer Ethan Millican responded to the Kum & Go convenience store located at 2885 E. Chestnut Expressway where a male suspect was shooting a firearm. Before Officer Millican arrived on scene, two SPD officers, as well as multiple citizens had been shot by the suspect. An entry team was formed and Officer Millican, along with other officers, entered the store and located store clerk Jayme Gilson behind the counter suffering from multiple gunshot wounds.
Officer Millican provided cover as Mr. Gilson was carried outside. Once outside the store, Officer Millican applied a tourniquet to Gilson’s right leg to stop the bleeding and he was transported by ambulance to the hospital. Mr. Gilson survived his injuries and made a full recovery. Dr. Larson, the Mercy ER Physician who treated Mr. Gilson that night, commented Officer Millican’s actions, including applying the tourniquet, “likely saved his life”.
Major Tad Peters – Mark K Priebe Community Service Award
Major Tad Peters has been integrally involved with Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Ozarks for over a decade. He has served the organization in a variety of ways, including holding a position on their Board of Directors from 2011 to 2014, and has continued to volunteer for the organization since then. His example led to the ongoing and continuous inclusion of SPD officers serving on the board since that time. He has participated in numerous fundraising efforts, including Taste of the Ozarks and Bowl for Kid’s Sake, raising well over $10,000. In 2016, Major Peters helped bring the “Bigs in Blue” program to Springfield and increased the participation of police officers serving as mentors through the Lunch Buddy and other community activity-based programs.
Major Peters was matched with his Little, Nick, in 2011 and has continued that relationship today. Upon graduation, Nick enlisted in the US Army Reserves, with the goal of becoming a police officer. He stated his goals were no doubt influenced by his time spent with his Big! In 2019, Major Peters was honored by Big Brothers Big Sisters as “Big Brother of the Year”.
Coach Dana Ford- Citizen Service Commendation
In 2020, Missouri State University men’s basketball coach Dana Ford expressed a desire to foster positive relationships between the youth of Springfield and the Springfield Police Department. He partnered with the Community Partnership of the Ozarks to create a program known as “Bears, Badges, and Kids”. Coach Ford brought together MSU players and officers from the Springfield Police Department to parks and schools throughout Springfield during the spring and summer where they were able to interact with local youth in a positive environment. In addition to basketball skills-based exercise, Coach Ford facilitated question and answer time between the police officers and kids in attendance and questioned the officers in a way that allowed them to show their personal side to the kids. This program was a success and is scheduled on an annual basis due to the vision and commitment of Coach Dana Ford.
Media Contact: PAO Jasmine Bailey417-864-1786[email protected]