U.Va. Honors Three Officers at First Commendation Luncheon

January 21, 2010 — Three University of Virginia employees — Sgt. Ted Roach of hospital security and U.Va. police officers Keith Berry and Jeffrey Maddra — were honored for their life-saving actions at the U.Va. Police Department's first commendation luncheon, held Wednesday in Newcomb Hall Ballroom.

Following the meal and presentation of colors by the Joint Color Guard of the ROTC and the Judge Advocate General School, U.Va. Police Chief Michael Gibson welcomed the audience.

"For those of us that have dedicated our lives to this profession, we enter this career knowing that most of what we do will go unnoticed by the majority of people in the communities that we serve," he said. "We are perfectly content with this arrangement because what motivates us is the knowledge that we are making a contribution and that our little part of world is a better place for it.

"There are times, though, that the actions that we take are of such importance that they simply have to be recognized. Such is the case today."

Sgt. Mark Pannell told the audience it was his "great honor" to recognize Roach, who's been a security officer at U.Va. since 1979 and was promoted to sergeant in 1981. As Roach's supervisor, Pannell said, "I've seen him over the years show compassion to patients and visitors."

On Dec. 7, 2007, a 2:30 a.m. call alerted officers to a "jumper" at the East Parking Garage, Pannell said. When he and another officer arrived at the scene, Roach was already there. Despite their efforts to talk the individual down, the man jumped and Roach caught him just as he leapt. Thanks to Roach's actions, this person survived, Pannell said, though Roach sustained a shoulder injury.

Sgt. Daniel Stuart, Berry's and Maddra's supervisor, recounted their life-saving actions. In October, the officers responded to a 6 a.m. call and found a young man who had hanged himself in a dorm room. They immediately moved him to the floor and began CPR.

"These two officers definitely saved this young man's life," said Dr. William Brady, an emergency physician who spoke at the luncheon and was on duty when the young man was brought in. "My thanks to you two. ... You clearly made a difference that day, as you do every day."

All three were given standing ovations upon receiving their awards, which included a framed certificate, a medal and a ribbon that they can wear on their uniforms.

Guest speaker Leonard W. Sandridge, U.Va.'s executive vice president and chief operating officer, lauded the honorees. "In split-second decisions, they did exactly what was right, and in each case saved a life," he said. "There are two people who owe you everything and will be grateful for the rest of their lives to you."

Sandridge also commended all officers for their readiness. "It could have been any one of you in this predicament, and any one of you would have known what to do. This emphasizes the importance of training," he said. "To know I can rely on you gives me a great deal of pride, satisfaction and comfort. Thank you very, very much for what you do every day."

Police officers receive training in crisis intervention, Gibson said afterward. This training is beneficial as it helps prepare the officer to defuse situations, reduces officer injury, reduces injury to the person in crisis and gives the officer a better understanding of mental illness, he said, adding that security officers will receive this training beginning in March.

During the luncheon, Gibson noted that the police department has formed an Awards and Commendation Committee to select future award recipients. A commendation luncheon will be held annually.

The department's workforce of 130, comprising sworn police, uniformed security personnel and civilians, is responsible for the well-being of everyone at the University, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The average daily population it serves is 40,000, including students, faculty, staff and visitors.

— By Rebecca Arrington