On June 14, 2017, during the final practice for the 2017 Congressional Charity Baseball Game, a gunman opened fire from behind the third base dugout.
Special Agents David Bailey and Crystal Griner of the United States Capitol Police had been providing dignitary protection for U.S. House of Representatives Majority Whip Steve Scalise that morning at the Alexandria, Virginia baseball field. The agents quickly identified the source of the gunshots and returned fire. Despite having been wounded, both agents continued engaging the gunman.
Minutes later, Alexandria, Virginia, Police Department Officers Kevin Jobe, Nicole Battaglia, and Alexander Jensen arrived. As Officer Jobe engaged the subject, Officer Battaglia directed the gunman’s attention away from the civilians and onto her cruiser, allowing Officer Jobe, Officer Jensen, and Special Agent Bailey to triangulate around the gunman. By working together, they were able to take the gunman down, secure the baseball field, and allow medical personnel to help the injured.
About a year prior, Lieutenant Scott Smith of the Orlando, Florida, Police Department also saved lives through an incredible act of leadership and bravery. On the morning of June 12, 2016, Lieutenant Smith and his officers responded to an active shooter situation at Pulse Nightclub, where more than 300 patrons were enjoying “Latin Night”. Because of the echoing sounds of gunfire, Lieutenant Smith did not know where the suspect was, but entered the building anyway. As the first to enter the building, Lieutenant Smith led the search for the suspect, walking across a dance floor, which had not yet been secured. Lieutenant Scott and the officers located the suspect and engaged in a shootout, allowing responding officers to rescue patrons and employees who were still inside the club.
As Lieutenant Smith organized the officers within the club and directed the deployment of SWAT operators responding to help, the gunman held hostages in the bathroom. After a few tense hours, the gunman raised the stakes – threatening to strap bomb vests to hostages to blow up the entire building. Lieutenant Smith coordinated the breach of the building which saved additional hostages and flushed out the gunman, who immediately started firing at the SWAT operators. SWAT team members, including Lieutenant Smith, returned fire, killing the suspect.
The incredible stories of these officers exemplifies the true spirit of the IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award, an award that since 1966 has been recognizing officers around the world for outstanding achievement in law enforcement. Finalists and nominees not only demonstrate valor, dedication, and perseverance, but they also represent the commendable efforts of law enforcement everywhere to increase and protect public safety.
If you know an officer who between July 14, 2017 and June 21, 2018 has demonstrated a level of excellence, nominate them for the 2018 IACP/Target Police Officer of the Year Award. Officers can be nominated for excellence in any police endeavor, including but not limited to: extraordinary valor, crime prevention, investigative work, community relations, traffic safety, drug control and prevention, juvenile programs, and training efforts. All sworn, full-time police officers below the rank of chief are eligible.