GPD officers awarded for lifesaving efforts

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Photo: Three Gadsden police officers receive a standing ovation at a May 9 City Council meeting after being presented with the Gadsden City Police Department’s 2022 CrimeStoppers of the Year awards. Pictured, front row, from left: Sergeant Danny Haas, Officer Alec Burgess and Officer Chris Phillips. (Emma Kirkemier/Messenger)

On May 9, Central Alabama CrimeStoppers awarded Sergeant Danny Haas, Officer Alec Burgess and Officer Chris Phillips with the title of Gadsden City Police Department’s 2022 CrimeStoppers of the Year.

Captain Wayne Keener wrote:

“Sergeant Danny Haas, Officer Alec Burgess and Officer Chris Phillips went above and beyond the call of duty by placing themselves in danger to save the life of a distraught individual on November 18, 2022.

“On November 18, 2022, officers arrived at the Railroad Bridge within 90 seconds of being dispatched. Officers arrived on the scene of Albert Rains Boulevard in the midst of heavy traffic where some vehicles were traveling at least 45 miles per hour. They came upon a distraught person and a vehicle that had been disabled.

“Officers were able to approach and grab the distraught person about the time they’d decided to jump from the bridge. The body camera displayed video that was both devastating to see and distressing to hear. They were in a place at a particular moment to be able to interact with a human being who felt unloved and underappreciated to the point of taking drastic measures that could have ended with devastating consequences.

“It was incredibly uplifting to hear Sergeant Hass’ first words to the person he pulled from danger: ‘I love you.’ Officer Burgess, who was in arm’s reach, reiterated [Hass’] words and said, ‘I don’t like heights; let’s walk off this bridge together.’ The officers escorted the person back to the base of the bridge where the Gadsden Fire Department was waiting and administered top-notch treatment. As they approached members of the Gadsden Fire Department, the person asked the officers, ‘Why do y’all care what happens to me? Nobody else cares.’ Sergeant Haas answered, ‘We care. We are here because we want to be here.’

“The officers’ actions were heroic. Their words were comforting. Any of the three men would tell you they did exactly the same thing any of our other officers would have done, and that’s probably true. However, that in itself (in) no way lessens the difference they made in a human being’s life that Friday. These are the type of men and women you have protecting your family, your homes and your businesses every single day. When it is said we have an outstanding police department, these guys prove it!

“Thank you, Sergeant Danny Haas, Officer Alec Burgess and Officer Chris Phillips for your service! You have brought great honor to our department and to the community you serve!”

Sergeant Danny Haas, Officer Alec Burgess and Officer Chris Phillips, on behalf of Central Alabama CrimeStoppers, we are honored to present you with Gadsden City Police Department’s 2022 CrimeStoppers Officer of the Year Award.

Submitted by Central Alabama CrimeStoppers Executive Director Tony A. Garrett.

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