Seven residents and three police officers were recognized for quick thinking and decisive actions in three incidents in which lives were saved.

The residents received the Civilian Gallantry Award and the officers received Life Saving Bars.

In addition, three officers were honored for their work in investigating and locating a mother and three children who disappeared just before a joint custody exchange. Two officers were cited for their actions that resulted in the arrest of an armed robber.

The awards were handed out during the seventh annual Lake Geneva Police Department Awards Ceremony on May 11 at city hall.

New officers Shannon Gee, Kyle McNeil, Brock Bouland and Aaron Greetham were sworn in, as were new reserve officers Ben Posanski and Suzanne Muedini. Lt. Bridget Way and Sgt. Sean Hinzpeter were recognized for their promotions.

Also honored was the memory of Albert C. Exner, the first and only Lake Geneva police officer to be killed in the line of duty. Exner was shot and killed in June 1931, while investigating shots being fired in the city. His sons, Al and Don Exner, were honored guests at the ceremony.

Employee of the Year

Records Clerk Holly Povish works on many behind the scenes projects, producing the department annual report and budget book. She administers the department’s social networking sites which have resulted in the arrest and prosecution of a number of suspects. Povish also boosts morale by organizing department cook outs, gift exchanges and pot lucks.

Citizen Gallantry Awards

  •  At about 11:34 a.m. on April 13, at Stellana U.S., 999 Well St., Eddie Premble, Aranda Manriquez and Pedro Barajas were nearby when a fellow employee, Peter Dreksler, stabbed himself in the femoral artery while disassembling a piece of equipment.

Premble immediately began to apply pressure to the wound to staunch the bleeding. Manriquez and Barajas also assisted in applying pressure because the location of the wound did not make a tourniquet possible.

Their quick action kept the victim alive until police and emergency medical personnel arrived.

Flight for Life took the victim to Froedtert Memorial where his injury was treated and he made full recovery.

  •  At about 6:46 p.m. Feb. 28, police received a call about a possible drowning at Badger High School.

Quick action by Lauren Kaiser, Glenn Biller, Rachel Senft and Jessica Newlun saved the victim. Kaiser pulled the 42-year-old woman from the pool. Biller began CPR and an automated external defibrillator was deployed by Senft and Newlun. Senft gave the victim rescue breaths until Officer Caitlyn Tietz took over chest compressions until emergency medical workers took over.

The victim was transported to a local hospital and made a full recovery.

Life Saving Bars

  •  Tietz was awarded a bar for her participation in the rescue at Badger.
  •  Sgt. Sean Hinzpeter and Officer Aaron Greetham were called to a possible drug overdose on March 11.

The officers found a 23-year-old woman who had overdosed on heroin lying on a living room floor, appearing pale and lifeless with blue hands and feet.

Hinzpeter began chest compressions and called for other officers to get the Narcan kit and oxygen. The victim began to take shallow, infrequent breaths and Greetham administered Narcan to the victim.

The victim received several doses of Narcan from EMS personnel and later regained consciousness. She was taken to a local hospital for treatment.

Commendations

  •  On May 16, 2016, Lake Geneva police received a complaint of a custody exchange in which one of the parents did not show up.

Police also learned that the three children had been truant from school for the past week. Lt. Ed Gritzner and detectives Joseph Ecklund and Seth Keller began an investigation to locate the missing mother and children.

Working with a task force that included the FBI and various state police agencies, Gritzner, Ecklund and Keller spent a total of 337.5 hours investigating and checking leads.

On May 23, 2016, a tip from a local resident vacationing in Savannah, Georgia, led authorities to the mother and the children, who were returned home safely.

Gritzner, Ecklund and Keller were recognized for their long hours of work and for their professional manner in dealing with the public and family members.

  •  At about 4:52 a.m. May 30, 2016, police were called to Walgreens, 351 N. Edwards Blvd., on the report of an armed robbery. Sgt. Dan Derrick and Officer Glen Nettesheim were among the officers who responded.

The robber demanded narcotics and threatened to blow up the store with a drone.

The suspect had fled. But while en route, Nettesheim reported seeing a gray SUV headed northbound on Edwards that turned west onto Sheridan Springs Road.

Surveillance video showed that the gray SUV had left the Walgreen’s parking lot at 4:49 a.m. The description of the SUV’s registered owner was similar to a witness description of the robber. Witnesses also said that the suspect had a note in his hand.

Derrick searched a garbage can and found the robber’s note. On the note was the name of the gray SUV’s registered owner. Officers learned that the vehicle had been seen in Genoa City. Derrick, a member of the Lake Geneva and Walworth County SWAT Team, determined that the SWAT team would serve the search warrant. The suspect was taken into custody peacefully.

Also receiving letters of commendation were:

  •  Special Agent James Langnes of the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). A member of the Clandestine Laboratory Enforcement Program Manager, Langnes worked closely with the Lake Geneva police and local emergency services workers to identify clandestine one-pot methamphetamine labs.
  •  Trooper Michael Smith of the Wisconsin State Patrol, as a member of the patrol’s Technical Reconstruction Unit, has assisted Lake Geneva police with four fatal traffic crash investigations in the past year.
  •  Officer Theon Ward was commended for his assistance in organizing the countywide National Night Out on Aug. 2, 2016, sponsored by Walworth County Crime Stoppers.

Service bars

Officers receiving the SWAT Team Service Bar for current and past service were: Chief Michael Rasmussen, Lt. Edward Gritzner, Lt. Bridgett Way, Sgt. Sean Hinzpeter, Sgt. Daniel Derrick, Detective Seth Keller, and officers Jeffrey Nethery, Brandi Nelson, Lucas Hansen, Kara Richardson, Thomas Giovannoni and William Walser.

Those receiving the Field Training Officer/Communications Training Officer bars: Lt. Ed Gritzner, Sgts. Dan Derrick, Sean Hinzpeter and Jason Hall; detectives Seth Keller and Joseph Ecklund; officers, Jeffrey Nethery, Brandi Nelson, Theon Ward, William Thornburgh and Thomas Giovannoni; Communications Supervisor Jean Froggatt and telecommunicators Patricia Holwick and Brenda Barton.

Chris Schultz has been a reporter for more than 40 years. He has been with the Lake Geneva Regional since 2010. He covers the Lake Geneva City Council and the Lake Geneva area schools.