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Officers commended for having heart

In March of last year, Las Vegas police officer Dave Rooney was diagnosed with severe sepsis, a life-threatening disease which attacks the nervous system.

As the medical bills piled up on Rooney’s family, a group of police officers decided to take action. That’s how “Ride for Dave,” named for Rooney’s love of motorcycles, was created as a fundraising effort to help the veteran officer.
On June 7, 2009, about 1,000 people raised $72,000 for Rooney, who fortunately recovered months later after a lengthy battle with the disease. He has since returned to active duty.

Tuesday wasn’t the first chance he had to express his gratitude, but it may have been his first chance to do so publicly.

“Thank you,” a uniformed Rooney said as he wrapped his arms around Sgt. Oscar Chavez with the Metropolitan Police Department’s fatal traffic detail. “Thank you so much.”

Chavez was one of 10 officers involved in the fundraiser who were honored with an exemplary service award at a commendation ceremony Tuesday morning.

The ceremony was hosted by Sheriff Doug Gillespie, who praised the officers’ example as evidence the department is a family.

“The Metro employees standing before us performed beyond expectations, putting in hundreds of hours of their own time to help Dave and his family in their time of need,” he said.

Other officers honored for exemplary service included a unit that participated in community wide outreach to aid the homeless population downtown.

The effort was helmed by Lt. Ted Snodgrass, aided by Sgt. Cindy Rodriguez and hammered home by Annie Wilson, the department’s liaison to the homeless, he said.

Officers helped set up sanitary facilities, provided food and helped make the streets safer, Gillespie said.

Gillespie said he drove through the area on Monday and was impressed with the improvements.

“Months prior I would have seen a sea of humanity no one in our city would be proud of,” he said.

Several officers also received department lifesaving awards, including officer John Medlicott, who helped resuscitate a 2-year-old boy at McCarran International Airport.

Corrections officers Scott Nicholas, Frederick Ammons and Andrew Trujillo were each honored with an award for saving the life of an inmate who had been attempting to commit suicide at Clark County Detention Center.

The inmate had tied a bedsheet around his neck, Gillespie said, but the sheet was tied so tightly that officers couldn’t untie the knot.

Nicholas used brute force to rip the sheet from the inmate’s neck.

It took a lot of strength, Gillespie said, adding, “You can take a look at him. He’s got a lot of it.”

Corrections officer David Crunden also was honored for saving the life of an inmate attempting suicide in a separate incident.

Gillespie finished the awards ceremony with a short speech to thank the officers for their efforts.

Police officers are a huge part of the quality of life in Las Vegas, he said.

“I’m a firm believer that cops are an investment, not a cost,” he said. “Without them, this community would not be the place it is today.”

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