ELKHART — Police Chief Chris Snyder commended four of his officers on Monday morning before the Police Merit Commission.
One of Snyder’s younger officers, Patrolman Emily Lamkin, received two commendation letters for going above and beyond during two March incidents.
Lamkin, on March 28, was called to an apartment fire. The fire at 1205 Georgia Blvd. quickly spread, but Lamkin, without concern for her own safety, went inside the building and evacuated an adult and child. They sustained no fire-related injuries.
After the evacuation, Lamkin quickly controlled the scene and conducted a thorough investigative report, which ultimately led to the arrest of a suspect that police said had flooded the apartment with an accelerant and set it on fire, according to the Elkhart Police Department Command Staff.
“The EPD Command Staff commends you for your courage and the selfless action that you took to ensure the safety of the citizens involved. Thank you!!!” the commendation letter said.
Lamkin was also commended for her efforts to save a person’s life on March 18 when she arrived at the Elkhart Super 8 Motel where a man was unresponsive. Lamkin took over CPR from the victim’s family until medical units arrived.
Patrolman Brandon Stevens was commended for his investigation of a June burglary in the 700 block of Monroe Street. Stevens located and spoke with one of two suspects and was then able to identify the second. During interviews, Stevens was able to get confessions from both suspects, including the location of the stolen items that were then recovered. He did such a good job, according to Capt. Bryan Moore, that the Criminal Investigation Department did not need to do a follow-up investigation.
“This is exactly the outstanding work and dedication that is needed in the patrol division, and you are to be commended for your hard work in closing this case,” Moore wrote.
Lt. Dan Milanese was commended for his overall effort and success in training officers in using firearms. The commendation, written by Assistant Chief Todd Thayer, states that Thayer has seen Milanese’s teaching ability grow over many years.
“You definitely have a gift and natural ability to teach not only the new officers but also the veterans,” Thayer wrote. “I am confident in saying that, due to your dedication to our training program, our officers are better prepared and equipped for a lethal force encounter.
Security Officer Daniel Scott, who is a civilian, received a commendation from the Command Staff after a crime victim wrote the department to thank Scott for his help.
The victim said they came to the station after a license plate was stolen, and Scott’s professional and helpful manner meant that the victim had their “probably best experience with Elkhart police ever,” the victim wrote. “He went above and beyond helping me.”
Snyder also asked the Police Merit Commission to approve written reprimands to Cpl. Kenneth Wade for insubordination and criticism of policies or orders; and Patrolman Adam Northcutt for performance and conduct violations.
The chief did not wish to answer questions about the incidents that led him to take disciplinary actions. He did answer questions about the commendations.
“Our officers are out there every day doing a great job,” Snyder said.
The department, according to Snyder, has formalized both commendations and disciplinary actions after he took over as chief in January following criticism of the discipline in the department.
“We felt it was important, if we were going to report, we want to report everything,” he said. “Sure they make mistakes and they do things that they shouldn’t, but overall they’re doing a great job, and I think today kind of shows that — we had a couple of minor disciplinary actions that had to be taken — but we had a lot more commendations.”
Snyder said his department has about 50 officers out of 140 with four years of experience or less. He said he was proud of the fact that even without lots of routine, young officers are doing their jobs so well they deserved commendations.
“To have a very young officer that does two things that stand out and we recognize for is just that much more comforting,” he said about Lamkin.
That speaks highly of the EPD’s training, the police academy and most of all, Snyder said, of his officers.
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