Recognition Coin Recipients ‘Go Above and Beyond’
“They always say ‘Anybody would have done this’, but we see time and again that’s not the case.”
By Brandi Makuski
It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
The Stevens Point Police Dept. holds its Coin Recognition Dinner just weeks before Christmas every year. It’s a chance for city police officers to extend a formal “Thank You” to area residents who have, to varying degrees, saved a life or prevented a crime.
“These are just ordinary, everyday folks who happened to come across someone needing help, or encountered what they believed to be a crime-in-progress, and they decided to intervene,” said Police Chief Martin Skibba. “Most of these folks went out of their way to help someone else they didn’t know, and that really says something about their character.”
The dinner, a simple fried chicken and mashed potatoes affair held at Rookies Sports Pub — and paid for by the department — was organized this year by Sgt. Michael Rottier. Rottier also oversees the department’s Police Auxiliary Unit, and many of the unit’s members were also in attendance on Wednesday.
When an officer is hired by the dept., they are issued a special department coin — something most police and fire departments have. When they encounter an individual who has gone above and beyond what is expected of a regular citizen during a crisis situation, the officer has the option to present the coin as a small measure of thanks.
“We hear it time and time again,” said Assistant Chief Tom Zenner. “People say, ‘I only did what anyone would have done’, or ‘I didn’t do anything special’, but that’s just not the case. Plenty of people today would just pull out their cell phone and start videotaping instead of helping.”
This year’s honorees include:
Kathy Richardson, an employee of Investors Community Bank, who on Sept. 21 noticed an agitated customer attempting to draw nearly $7,000 from a bank account. Richardson suspected fraud and notified her supervisor, thwarting the criminal act.
Emily Check helped save a life at the YMCA. Along with two other people, Check saw a male subject, face-down, in the pool and unresponsive. Check helped perform CPR on the man until paramedics arrived, saving his life.
Clayton Jansky was travelling with his wife on I-39 on Dec. 5, 2015, when a vehicle in front of them pulled over. They pulled over as well, to see if the driver needed any assistance. Jansky found an occupant of the vehicle was having a heart attack, and he performed CPR for nearly 15 minutes until paramedics arrived, saving the man’s life.
William Chapin investigated a noise in his backyard in the early morning hours of July 13. He saw a woman attempt to force open a neighbor’s shed, then attempt to enter his roommate’s vehicle. Chapin called police quickly, leading to the woman’s arrest. She was found to be involved with a string of recent thefts and break-ins.
Rachel Hintz saw a vehicle strike a streetlight pole on Oct. 13 near Southpoint Restaurant. Hintz ran to the vehicle to help, finding a woman in the vehicle unconscious, and she called 911. By the time officers arrived, the vehicle had started on fire. While officers were tending to the victim, Hintz took it upon herself to direct traffic while they attempted to save the victim’s life. The woman did not survive, but Hintz protected officers while they worked.
James Koch was tubing with friends on the Plover River on June 18, when he noticed someone in a canoe suffering a medical emergency. Koch helped direct the canoe through some downed trees and towards the shore of Iverson Park. As they neared the shoreline, the victim fell into the water. Koch grabbed the man from the water and, with assistance from two others, pulled the victim to shore. While the victim did not survive, Koch’s actions were considered “courageous and compassionate” by Ofc. Greg Bean.
Erik Butts, along with wife Carrie, owns Diverpoint Scuba in Downtown Stevens Point. The Butts Family was also awarded a Recognition Coin for their continuous assistance of the Stevens Point Police Dept. because they frequently volunteer their diving services during the grim task of body recovery. The family has even gone so far as to shut down their business during regular hours when police have asked for their help.