Officer, Citizen, Business and more
By Lynn Volkens
Crime Stoppers of Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties held their annual Lyle Wohlers Law Enforcement Appreciation Luncheon on May 8, 2013 at Ameristar Casino in Black Hawk. The event was hosted this year by the Central City Police Department. Detective Rick Miller served as Master of Ceremonies, introducing the speakers and award presenters. Crime Stoppers accepts nominations from the various law enforcement agencies located in Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties, and from the Colorado State Patrol. Officer of the Year candidates are nominated for “performance of their duties above and beyond what is required on the job, for bringing respect to themselves, honor to their departments, and for consistently promoting a positive image for the law enforcement community and the citizens of Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties.” Crime Stoppers recognizes a “Citizen of the Year” with an award based on “demonstrating a positive image, encouraging and assisting others to better themselves, and through their acts and their deeds, working for the common good of the people of Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties in a manner that is consistent with law enforcement ideals.” The President’s Award is given to “an individual who has dedicated their life to the law enforcement community.” Additionally, there is a Lifetime of Excellence in Law Enforcement Award.
Approximately 150 people attended the luncheon-awards ceremony. Members of Gilpin County’s Veterans groups served as Color Guard. Chaplain Jimmy Wattles gave the benediction, noting that law enforcement officers are often “praying with their eyes open so others can pray with their eyes closed.”
This year’s guest speaker was Peter Weir, First Judicial District Attorney. The DA introduced his staff and told law enforcement officers it was an honor for prosecutors to work side by side with them, in the courtroom, for the victims. Weir’s address carried themes of appreciation, courage, and fear. “This is a day of thanks and a day of remembrance,” said Weir, adding that officers who died in the line of duty, “who had given the ultimate sacrifice,” would never be forgotten. He urged those present to “recommit ourselves to the principles they held dear – the safety of citizens.” “’Courage’ resonates with me,” Weir said, “Five more names were placed on the Memorial at the State Patrol Academy in Golden last Friday.” He commended law enforcement officers for their courage, “the bravery it takes for you to confront your daily work” and for their commitment to community and fellow citizens. Weir described the fear that victims of violence feel, the fear that officers are exposed to in their work, and told them, “You are models to our community of how to overcome fear.” Being able to fight against fear is about freedom, Weir said, offering details of specific cases in which the actions of officers freed victims from fear and allowed them to escape violent situations. “By your quick response and decisive action, you represent the front line of defense for these victims. You are rescuing people in their moments of direst need. You stand as guardians against fear to those in pain and those who aim to hurt us,” he concluded.
Following the Key Note Address, it was time for awards. The job of choosing award winners from many nominations fell to a seven member selection committee: Christian Gardner-Wood, Danney Goracke, Patricia Hack, Marie Cullar, Abigail Keating, Gayle Rust and Chris Schuchmann. As Master of Ceremony Miller commented, “Just being nominated is admirable.”
Gilpin County’s 2012 Lyle Wohlers Award Winners
Citizen of the Year: Described as “Gilpin County’s Dr. Doolittle,” Larry Sterling is a volunteer and chairman of the Gilpin County Animal Response Team (GCART). He has assisted the Gilpin County Sheriff’s Office with the rescue, housing and transport of large animals. Of his expertise with animals, it’s said, “Give him a lasso and a work horse – he’s ready to go.” He passes along his knowledge to other GCART responders in trainings and to local youth as a volunteer with 4-H. By trade, Sterling is in the excavation business. He shows up with his heavy equipment to help clear roads, pull vehicles from ditches and otherwise assist the Sheriff’s Office upon request. He’s also assisted Colorado State Patrol, the Division of Wildlife and the State Parks Service.
Also nominated: Diane Anderson and Glen Anderson.
Officer of the Year: Black Hawk Police Detective Matt Adams. Described as the “Go to person who gets things done,” Detective Adams has investigated nearly every major incident handled by Black Hawk Police Department for the past five years, including an ongoing arson case, now in its fourth year, and recent events involving prostitution and credit card fraud. Adams is also a member of the department’s tactical team and provides training for other officers, including Active Shooter training and exercises designed to prepare officers to deal with an attack at school or similar situation.
Also nominated: Central City Police Officer Nathan Geerdes.
Clear Creek County’s 2012 Lyle Wohlers Award Winners
Citizen of the Year: Sarah Cassano, Case Worker for the Department of Human Services, has had particular success in helping children get away from abusive situations. Three specific cases were cited in which Cassano’s help insured successful outcomes for children in Clear Creek County’s jurisdiction. She works with law enforcement and the justice system to protect children and was described as “a superior example of professionalism” and “one who goes above and beyond” in her work to serve the community.
Also nominated: Ron Heath, Della Francis, and Larry Nemnich.
Officer of the Year: Idaho Springs Police Officer Chris Wolf spends not only his on-duty time helping his community, but also his off-duty time. He’s dedicated countless hours to help the Morrison Police Department and community, and worked with the Colorado Department of Transportation to insure public safety at the current I-70 tunnel project. Officer Wolf traveled to and lived in a Mexican village to participate in a Spanish language emersion program. He now speaks that language fluently and translates for law enforcement to the extent that a patrol officer can call him at home when translation help is needed at a traffic stop. His dedication is further demonstrated by his work in training and teaching personnel in multiple other law enforcement and military agencies. Wolf developed and teaches Active Shooter and Scout Sniper curriculums.
Also nominated: Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Officer Beau Campbell.
Business of the Year: Rite of Passage-Q House, located in Idaho Springs and operated by Troy Erickson, with the help of numerous counselors and community assistance, helps young men from social services and the juvenile court system give back to their community through various programs in which the young men volunteer their time and skills for the greater good. In the process, they not only improve the communities where they are working, but also improve their own lives and create future opportunities for success.
Also nominated: Ameristar Casino, and the Tommyknockers Brewery.
President’s Award: Scott Turner, Former Chief Deputy District Attorney for the 5th Judicial District, was recognized for a life dedicated to the law enforcement community. Turner worked more than twenty years in criminal law, including nine years as a prosecuting attorney. Thanks to Turner’s assistance the Crime Stoppers program was revived in 2009 after being dormant for several years.
Lifetime of Excellence in Law Enforcement Award: This award was given, posthumously, to Central City Police Department’s Sergeant Albert Kidd, who spent his life in law enforcement, finishing that career as a member of Central City’s police force. Sgt. Kidd was well-liked and respected, and very active in the local community. He died of cancer in March, 2013. Sgt. Kidd was remembered through personal comments by Central City Police Chief Terry Krelle and a memorial video provided by his daughter, Danielle Von Feldt.
Chief Krelle also recognized the family of Colorado State Patrol Trooper Lyle Wohlers, who was shot and killed during a traffic stop on I-70 near Georgetown in 1992. The Crime Stoppers annual awards ceremony has been named in honor of Trooper Wohlers since 1993. “We will not forget that you made the ultimate sacrifice, too,” he told Mrs. Cheryl Wohlers, the trooper’s widow, and son, Dave Wohlers who followed in his father’s law enforcement footsteps and is now Chief of Police in Idaho Springs.
Crime Stoppers of Gilpin and Clear Creek Counties is a non-profit organization that enables people to get information to law enforcement officials indirectly and anonymously. The organization’s volunteer board of directors raises funds and distributes rewards for information that helps solve a crime. Crime Stoppers is funded solely by contributions. (www.gccc-crimestoppers.com or www.facebook.com/stopcrime)