Police, citizens receive kudos in Friday ceremony

Citizens and police alike were honored Friday at the Medford Police Department's annual awards ceremony held at the Rogue Valley Country Club.

The Employee of the Year awards were given to Detective Bill Ford, because he was called to more than 60 major crimes in 2009; crime analyst Ruth Cox, who helped collect data for a large drug sting and, finally, volunteer Gene Jones, who put in more than 600 free hours serving as a courier and handicap parking enforcer for the department.

Among those who received the Citizen Certification of Commendation award were:

  • Kirsta Babbitt, who helped Medford detectives bust a counterfeit money ring operating throughout Oregon and California. Babbitt was working at Food 4 Less when she noticed a woman attempting to pass a $100 bill for a small amount of groceries. Babbitt suspected the bill was counterfeit and notified the police, who arrested the woman and her partner in crime. The suspects later admitted to passing thousands of counterfeit bills along the West Coast.
  • The Rev. Bob Gass, Diane Hartzog, Lynn Cote and Connie Knutson, who came to the aid of an elderly woman who was physically and financially abused by people in her mobile home park. They offered her a new place to live, took her to doctor appointments and moved her belongings to a new home. In addition, they organized the victim's financial documents, so the police easily could prosecute the suspects in a case that reached well over $250,000.
  • Officer Tamara Camp, Marilynn Camp and Megan Camp, who have served Medford's homeless community for more than a decade. They've gathered essential items and made packages for homeless residents during the Christmas season.
  • Terry Munday, who helped Medford detectives solve four residential burglaries. Munday reported seeing a suspicious man leaving his neighbor's backyard. Concerned for his neighbor's property he followed the man and took a picture of the suspect on his cell phone. The photograph was given to Jackson County Community Corrections, which immediately identified the suspect. He was then tied to four burglaries.
  • Firefighter Ryan Stidham, who chased down and captured a burglar who struck Big 5 Sporting Goods on Jan. 8.
  • Gregg Walker, Aubrey Daily and Roland Swenson, who helped police nab a violent offender sneaking around their neighborhood on Aug. 13.

The Medford Police Department then recognized its own officers with Outstanding Achievement awards. The awards were given to the following:

  • Detective Kathryn Ivens, who helped solve a tough homicide case involving gang retaliation. She was tasked with interviewing witnesses and suspects who were not willing to cooperate with police for two months until the case was solved.
  • Detective Gary Hatten, FBI agent Adam Marre, Kelli Daves and Ruth Cox, who collected intelligence for "Operation Goat Rope" that ended with the arrest of a large heroin ring operating in Southern Oregon.
  • Dispatcher Kerri Hill, who fielded multiple calls on Aug. 29 during the search for a missing 84-year-old Alzheimer's patient. After leaving work for the day, Hill saw the man walking in the area of Cedar Links and helped him to safety.
  • Records specialist Eric Kounz, for his work designing and expanding the Medford Police Department's website.
  • Officer Shannon Reynolds, whose work with two informants led to one of Medford's largest multi-agency drug stings known as "Shake and Bake". The sting ended in 31 arrest warrants for drug and other offenses.

Officers who received the Meritorious Life Saving Award included:

  • Officer Patrick Dennis, who delivered CPR to a woman who had not received oxygen for several minutes due to a medical condition. The woman survived.
  • Officer Justin McFetridge, who administered CPR to a 19-year-old woman who was not breathing and did not have a pulse. The woman survived.
  • Officer Ralph Sartain, who helped a stabbing victim survive wounds received in an attack in Medford's Hawthorne Park on May 26.
  • DEA Agent Willivan Rojas and Jackson County Sheriff's Deputy Jeff McGrath, who rescued a suicidal man who tried to jump from the Interstate 5 viaduct in March.

Finally, officer Erik Baines was given the Top Gun award for his shooting ability.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 541-776-4771; or e-mail him at cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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