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The Journal Gazette

  • Jamie Duffy | The Journal Gazette Detective Christine Armstead receives a letter of commendation at the Fort Wayne Police Department's annual awards ceremony Wednesday. Armstead is joined by Assistant Chief Karl Niblick, left, and Chief Stephen Reed.

Thursday, May 17, 2018 1:00 am

FWPD awards officers, civilians

Annual ceremony shows there's 'good that happens'

JAMIE DUFFY | The Journal Gazette


Citizen Service Citation

Edward Bergoff, Sharon Coleman, Jamie Craig, Ian Fairchild, Lara Fairchild, Martin Fairchild, Rose Fairchild, Mary E. Keller, Ryan Matteson, Ryan Reichhart, Eric Spicer

Award of Excellence

Officers Phillip Bartrom, Nathan Beagle, Mark Bell, David Boles (K-9), Mark “Adam” Brown, Treven Brown, Benjamin Bush, David Bush, Ronald Cofelt and dog Django, Joseph Cutler, Stephen Ealing, Dustin Engelman (K-9), Christopher Felton, David Tinsley, Douglas Weaver, Everett White, Mitch Gearhart, Zechariah Geisleman, Kyle Hartman, Trent Hullinger, Sage Knopp, Nicholas Lichtsinn and Benjamin MacDonald; Sgt. Rodney Bradtmueller; Detectives Jason Fuhrman, Douglas Gillespie, Randy Miller, Larry Richardson, Brent Roddy 

Community Service Award

Fort Wayne Freeze Hockey Team: FWPD Officers Mark Bell, Michael Bell, Matthew Crawford, Alvin Davis, Michael Delong, Benjamin MacDonald, Lucas MacDonald, Spencer Munger, Charles Smith; Allen County Sheriff's Department Officers Scott Borton, Jason Schmieman; Columbia City Police Officer Scott Valentic

Letter of Commendation

Detectives Christine Armstead, John Chambers, Douglas Gillespie, Randy Miller, Matthew Newbauer, Andrew Noll, Brent Roddy, Scott Straub; Officers Gavin Dambra, Kyle Garritano, Jean Gigli, Michael Hickman, Christian Hoffman, Nicholas Lichtsinn, Anthony Maurer, Benjamin Miller, Stephanie Souther, Benjamin Springer, Joshua Trenary, Cory Troyer, Douglas Weaver, Matthew West, Everette White, Benjamin Young; Sgts. Anthony Forte, Troy Jester, Christopher Reed

Meritorious Service Citation

Officers Aaron Bloomfield, David Boles (K-9), Christopher Brautzsch, Joshua Franciscy, Bryce Gerig, Michael Hickman, Trent Hullinger, Darin Kenemore, Anthony Maurer, Daniel Nerzig, Jeremy Nicodemus, Geoffrey Norton, Preonda Reece, Gregory Stier, Jay Thompson, Thomas Vachon; Detectives Michael Dickey, Matthew Foote, Jason Fuhrman, Douglas Gillespie, Shannon Hughes, David Wilkins; retired Detective Kathy Morales; Sgts. William Michaels, Thomas Strausborger; Indiana State Police Troopers John Grant, Michael Hollandsworth 

Distinguished Service Citation for Valor

Detectives Christine Armstead, Randy Miller; Officers Joshua Buchs, Gavin Dambra, Andrew Fry, Quinton Hunter, Sage Knopp, Spencer Munger, James Spangle; Sgt. Gary Hensler

They chased down robbers and killers and, in some cases, their on-the-spot sleuthing led to speedy arrests.

At the annual Fort Wayne Police Department awards ceremony Wednesday, Chief Stephen Reed said the department was honoring “some of the bravest individuals I've had the pleasure to work with in my entire career.”

One officer who refused to give up was Detective Christine Armstead, who received a letter of commendation and later was honored with a Distinguished Service Citation with nine other officers.

After a yearlong investigation into a homicide was turned down by the Allen County prosecutor's office, Armstead took another tack, Sgt. Jim Seay said.

“She knew there was good evidence in this case and that it should be charged,” Seay said from the podium at the Public Safety Academy off Tillman Road.

“Detective Armstead put together a photographic diagram that showed evidence in relation to the body, in particular DNA evidence from a cigarette butt,” Seay said.

Still, the case was declined, Seay said. After several months, Armstead took the case to a different prosecutor who ended up charging Xavier Miller with the murder of Porter Billians in June. Billians was shot in the head inside an abandoned home on Kent Road in September 2015. In January, Miller was sentenced to 50 years in prison in Billians' death.

Letters of commendation also went to four officers who took it upon themselves to aggressively police the Coliseum Boulevard West corridor.

Officers Nicholas Lichtsinn, Stephanie Souther, Douglas Weaver and Christian Hoffman led 630 officer-initiated investigations that led to more than 116 arrests and many citations. Their work in the corridor was in addition to their normal radio calls, Seay said.

The area is rampant with human trafficking, drugs and guns, Souther said after she received her award.

The Fort Wayne department recognizes citizens as well as law enforcement.

Edward Berghoff, a civilian who works in the crimes analysis unit for the police, pored over police reports after being given meager information on a possible homicide suspect in a Detroit homicide, Seay read. That case is now awaiting trial.

The family of Officer Craig Fairchild was also honored with Citizen Service Citations for creating the Children's Hospital Holiday Gift Surprise seven years ago. Fairchild's oldest son, Ian, came up with the idea to visit children who were hospitalized on Christmas.

The Fairchild family – Martin, Lara and Rose Fairchild – collected new toys and gifts for the children, Seay said, and if they didn't get enough donations they found other sources.

“They then wrap the gifts, and on Christmas Day they spend the day with the hospitalized children and deliver the presents,” Seay said.

Police Chaplain Richard Hartman told those in attendance that although there is violence, the ceremony was a chance to focus on the good.

“There's also good that happens,” Hartman said. “It's a good thing because we work together, a good thing because we care.”