Mona Shield Payne / Special to the Sun
Thursday, March 12, 2009 | 11:27 a.m.
The Henderson Police Department's 6th Annual Commendation Ceremony was held Wednesday night at Henderson City Hall, and the youngest of the 23 award recipients was 12-year-old Jessica Luken of Lake Mead Christian Academy.
"It's kind of weird being surrounded by so many cops," Jessica said. "But this is exciting."
Jessica was given a Meritorious Service Award for her actions on Aug. 8, 2008, in which she helped save her father's life.
When her father, John Luken, suffered a heart attack while eating dinner, Jessica called 911. She provided clear and precise directions to their house and put the call on speaker phone so that her mother could hear the CPR instructions being given by the dispatcher.
She also ran to the neighbors for additional help, used a cell phone to call her aunt and uncle who lived nearby and prepared an overnight bag for her mother, knowing that she would have to be with John Luken at the hospital, the commendation said.
"In addition, during all of this, she put the family dog outside so it wouldn't be in the paramedic's way," said Henderson Police Chief Jutta Chambers. "She acted very calm and mature."
The Henderson Police Department honored several other local citizens, police officers and civilian employees for their efforts in serving the community.
Henderson Police Department chaplains Gary Morefield, Carl Swenberg, David Delaria, Sam Roberson, John Bagwell and Kerin Schroeder each received a certificate of appreciation.
Chambers said the Henderson Police Department's Chaplaincy Program, which was founded in 1995, provides for the spiritual needs of civilians in distress and those in uniform.
"This service is not without great stress, great responsibility, great sacrifice and sometimes great sorrow," Chambers said. "It is then that the chaplains are called upon to minister to us."
Corrections officers Jed Robbins and Karl Dinkel were awarded certificates of appreciation for their actions in saving an inmate's life at the Henderson Detention Center.
On June 10, 2008, Robbins observed an inmate with his shirt tied around his neck trying to commit suicide. The inmate was not breathing, unresponsive and blue in the face.
Robbins and Dinkel immediately untied and removed the shirt, enabling the inmate to breathe on his own, and summoned the nursing staff.
"Without Jed and Karl's quick actions in calling for help and rendering immediate aid to this inmate, he would have died," Chambers said.
A Distinguished Service Award was given to animal control officer Kerry Pettit, who protected a citizen and his German Shepherd dog from two aggressive pit bulls that escaped a house and were on the loose.
The citizen and his dog were able to get back inside their home while Pettit used a bite stick to fend off the two pit bulls. Henderson police officers arrived and shot one of the dogs when it charged at the officers.
"She rescued a man and his dog from what could have been a fatal attack," Chambers said.
Officer Greg Edwards, a 12-year veteran of the Henderson Police Department, was named Officer of the Year for 2008.
Chambers said that Edwards has extensive knowledge of criminal procedures and departmental policies. He also volunteers his time to assist new recruits and trainees.
"Officer Edwards has been involved in several critical incidents and exhibits outstanding tactical skills," Chambers said. "He exemplifies the professionalism, dedication and honesty that the Henderson Police Department strives for in each of its officers."
Jeff O’Brien can be reached at 990-8957 or email@example.com.