WPPA ANNOUNCES ANNUAL CONVENTION AND SERVICE AWARDS

April 2005

Madison - The Wisconsin Professional Police Association (WPPA), the state’s leading law enforcement association, will hold its 73rd Annual Convention at the Kalahari Resort and Convention Center in Wisconsin Dells on May 14-16, 2005.

WPPA's Annual Convention attracts members from around the state of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, who gather each year to adopt resolutions on state legislation, discuss the legal rights of law enforcement officers, and hear from prominent speakers on law enforcement issues.

The theme of Convention 2005 is “Building Your Support Network,” and the keynote speaker will be Robert E. West at the Opening Session on Saturday, May 14. The strength of any organization is its members and the collective power they generate. Strong locals with active members supported by a comprehensive, vital state organization deliver the strength needed to achieve our goals. In this new age, Mr. West says, we must activate, legislate, motivate, and participate at all levels to be effective. Mr. West will discuss techniques for building strong locals with active members. Mr. West was an organizer from the minute he set foot in his first classroom as a teacher in the middle ’60s. He organized his colleagues and bargained a contract when it was the exception, not the rule. In 1971, he left the classroom to work full time for the Wisconsin Education Association Council. He served as an organizer, negotiator, political activist, and, for the final 15 years prior to his retirement, as the statewide Director of Bargaining and Research. Mr. West is well known for his dynamic motivational speaking.

John Matthews, Executive Director of Madison Teachers, Inc., will speak at the President’s Breakfast on Sunday morning, May 15. Mr. Matthews will discuss why, in his opinion, WPPA and its local affiliates can develop into one of the strongest political machines in the state; how working with other public employee unions WPPA can advance its agenda to the benefit of its members; and how WPPA can take advantage of the credibility which its members have earned and the work they do at the local level, i.e. in politics sweat is more valuable than money. Mr. Matthews has served as Executive Director of Madison Teachers Inc. (MTI) for 37 years, building MTI union membership from 900 to 5500 and from one bargaining unit to five. He has built MTI into a respected political powerhouse and is among the founders of the Dane County Labor Political Coalition. Mr. Matthews has served as a consultant to teacher unions nationwide, conducted organizing workshops, political action workshops, and bargaining workshops for teachers and other public employees. He has represented other unions such as teachers, firefighters, nurses, police officers, police supervisors, and sheriff supervisors.

The following workshops will be offered throughout the Convention: Association Responsibilities in Post Critical Incidents; Creating and Administering Your Own Local; Funding Post-Employment Health Care; Worker’s Compensation and Duty Disability – Strategies to Maximize Benefits Available to Disabled Law Enforcement Officers; Political Action; Financial Planning; and Working with Professional Fund-Raisers for Locals.

The WPPA’s annual Service Awards will be presented at an evening banquet on Sunday, May 15. WPPA recognizes law enforcement officers and citizens each year for heroism, contributions to their communities, and other good works.

The 2005 Award for Valor, WPPA’s highest award, will be presented posthumously to Rhinelander Police Department Sergeant Stephen G. Martin, who died while serving his country in Iraq. Six months after being sent to Iraq, Sergeant Martin, 39, while serving with the U.S. Army Reserves, died from injuries received after a car bomb exploded in the City of Mosul on June 24, 2004. He was a member of the Sheboygan-based Army Reserve 330th Military Police Detachment. Sergeant Martin died of wounds he received while trying to protect other soldiers and civilians from a car bomb. His actions and the actions of others who died that day most assuredly saved lives, according to Brigadier General Michael W. Beasley in a press conference held before the funeral service on July 8, 2004.

Ten officers will receive the WPPA Meritorious Award for performing within the realm of duty and showing great courage, ability, and devotion to police service: Officers Phillip F. Yahnke, Shane E. Pueschner, and Jean L. Papalia from the Madison Police Department; Deputies Kory E. Otradovec, Aaron M. Rochon, and Kenneth F. Sexton (now Sergeant) from the Dickinson County, Michigan, Sheriff’s Department; Officers Erich R. Strausbaugh, Erich S. Weidner, and Albert B. Gonzales from the Kenosha Police Department; and Sergeant Karen J. Krahn from the Madison Police Department.

Madison Police Officers Yahnke, Pueschner, and Papalia will receive the Meritorious Award for their actions when they responded to an incident at the Red Caboose Day Care Center in Madison. On March 9, 2004, at about 9:00 a.m., a man with two meat cleavers entered the day care center and began threatening the day care center director and another employee. The employee struggled with the armed intruder and was injured but made it to a nearby store to call for help. The armed intruder then entered a classroom filled with children, employees, and parents, and threatened to kill the center’s director. Officers Yahnke, Pueschner, and Papalia were the first officers to arrive on the scene. Using a police response called “rapid deployment,” the officers quickly entered the building and found the intruder who was verbally and physically threatening children and staff. The officers quickly assessed the situation, attempted to bring the suspect into compliance, but ultimately Officers Yahnke and Pueschner were forced to shoot him. All three officers performed an extraordinary act of bravery and heroism in the line of duty.

Dickinson County, Michigan, Deputies Rochon, Sexton, and Otradovec will receive the Meritorious Award because of their actions during a multiple shooting incident in Iron Mountain, Michigan. On October 27, 2004, area law enforcement agencies responded to a residence in Iron Mountain after it was reported that there had been multiple shootings at that residence. After it was determined that at least one victim had been killed and two others seriously wounded, Deputies Rochon, Sexton, and Otradovec and Michigan State Trooper Jeffrey Varga quickly located the murder suspect at an apartment complex in Vulcan, Michigan. Two civilian witnesses advised Trooper Varga that the murder suspect was present in the building and armed with a revolver. The witnesses also advised that the suspect had admitted to them that she had just shot three people in Iron Mountain. Shortly after the contact with the witnesses, Deputy Sexton and Trooper Varga located the suspect in the parking lot of the apartment complex. Deputies Rochon and Otradovec arrived on the scene at approximately the same time and observed that the armed suspect had taken cover behind a dumpster. After being given numerous verbal commands to drop her weapon, the suspect refused to comply and raised her weapon and began walking toward Deputies Otradovec and Rochon while repeatedly firing her revolver. All four officers were forced to return fire in self defense and to protect the civilians that were on the scene. The suspect was struck six times and suffered fatal injuries. Deputies Rochon, Sexton, and Otradovec are commended for their professional and courageous response to a deadly situation. [It should be noted that WPPA can give the Meritorious Award to WPPA members only, and, therefore, a Certificate of Merit has been awarded to Michigan State Trooper Jeffrey Varga.]

Kenosha Officers Strausbaugh, Weidner, and Gonzales will receive the Meritorious Award for an incident involving a Kenosha man who fled police during a field sobriety test. On November 9, 2004, a 21-year-old Kenosha man’s history of police resistance culminated in a five-minute struggle that ended with the subject being wounded fatally. During the struggle, the suspect tried to commandeer Officer Strausbaugh’s weapon. As the suspect tried to pull Officer Strausbaugh’s gun from his holster, Strausbaugh put his own hand on the holster and pushed down. Officers Strausbaugh and Weidner continued to struggle with the suspect, who had been stunned with a Taser twice but continued to resist. The officers called for the suspect to be stunned again but it did not deter him. The suspect rose up and bull-rushed Officer Strausbaugh and put him up against a car. Officer Gonzales saw this and heard Strausbaugh yell “He’s got my gun!” Gonzales yelled, “Straus, does he still have your gun?” Gonzales put his gun to the suspect’s head ready to fire as the suspect continued to resist. Gonzales’ gun jammed and he pulled the firearm back. As he went to put it back to the suspect’s head, the gun went off. At nearly the same time, Kenosha Police Lieutenant David Krueger, who was also on the scene, gave an order to shoot. All three officers are commended for their bravery, unselfish teamwork, and outstanding use of their training.

Madison Police Sergeant Karen Krahn will receive the Meritorious Award for her actions when responding to a shooting. On June 14, 2004, shortly after 4:30 a.m., two Madison officers were sent to an incident where a man was attacking a woman in the street. When the first officer arrived, she confronted the suspect who was actively attacking the victim. The officer deployed a Taser on the suspect but the suspect was not affected and turned his attack on the officer. The struggle ended abruptly and the suspect disengaged and stole the officer’s squad. Sergeant Krahn was responding to the scene and observed the suspect flee in the marked squad. Sergeant Krahn pursued the stolen squad, watching as the suspect then headed straight on for a crash with the second officer’s squad heading to the scene. The second officer took evasive action with his squad, pulling off the road behind a tree to avoid a collision. The stolen squad then crashed into a tree. Sergeant Krahn then exited her squad to prepare to administer medical assistance to the suspect she thought would have been significantly injured by the crash. However, Krahn encountered a suspect who was so focused and determined that he was attempting to exit the stolen squad to continue his violent attack on Krahn. Krahn and the suspect struggled and Krahn was forced to use deadly force to stop the lethal attack. Despite being shot, the suspect continued to attack, even after increasing numbers of officers arrived to assist. Significant medications administered by other emergency personnel on the scene finally subdued the suspect at the hospital. Sergeant Krahn’s actions were deemed justified by the District Attorney and she is commended for her courage under extremely difficult conditions.

Appleton Police Lieutenant Gregory Goodavish will receive the WPPA Officer of the Year award because of his work with various agencies, both in his official duties and as a citizen, to enhance the quality of life for youth and families in the Appleton community. Lt. Goodavish was a leader in establishing a Child Advocacy Center for children of physical and sexual abuse. He was instrumental in developing the protocol for Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), which outlines exactly how to interview the victims and collect evidence, as well as teaching other law enforcement officers how to properly utilize the SANE protocol. In Appleton, Lt. Goodavish implemented the Amber Alert System, designed to help find missing children more quickly through the media. In addition to his commitment to the programs listed above, Lt. Goodavish coordinated twelve officers of the Police School Liaison Unit, while also maintaining a leadership role in five other programs: (1) WeTIP, an anonymous reporting system for civilians; (2) TRAC Center, a program dealing with the truancy of juveniles; (3) Gang Liaison Program, a program that aspires to combat the negative effects of gangs; (4) Young Citizen’s Academy, which coordinates the education of youth on what the police department does and why; and (5) Underage Alcohol & Tobacco Cessation Program, which identifies “at risk” youth and educates law enforcement on how to keep them out of the Criminal Justice System. The unparalleled accomplishments of Lt. Goodavish make him truly worthy of this honor.

The WPPA’s 2005 Youth Award will go to Cora Jean Gendron, who was a victim and survivor of the Iron Mountain, Michigan, incident on October 27, 2004 (see above). Shortly after 5:00 p.m. on October 27, the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Office received several emergency calls that shots had been fired at a residence located at 312 W. Ludington Street in Iron Mountain. Officers immediately responded to the residence and discovered three victims, one of whom was Cora Jean, who had received gunshot wounds to her shoulder and foot. Another victim was deceased and the third had received a gunshot wound to his chest. It was 14-year-old Cora Gendron who was able to get to the telephone and call 911. “With her mother deceased and the third victim unable to move, Cora managed to keep her composure and her wits about her during the incident even after she had been shot twice,” said Dickinson County Prosecuting Attorney Christopher Ninomiya. Cora Gendron was selected to receive the Youth Award because of her courage and the help she provided to local law enforcement. She is to be commended for her bravery and composure in an extremely stressful situation.

In addition to the awards presented at the Annual Convention, WPPA has presented Certificates of Merit for the application of proper police technique in the best interest of police service to:

The WPPA also recognizes Wisconsin citizens for contributing to their local law enforcement. This year the WPPA presented Citizen Awards to:

A highlight of the WPPA’s Annual Convention is the Board of Directors’ annual raffle for the Law Enforcement Torch Run® for Special Olympics. All proceeds from the raffle benefit Special Olympics Wisconsin athletes.

With 73 years of service to law enforcement personnel, the WPPA is recognized as the leading law enforcement association in the state. Founded in 1932, WPPA represents more than 10,500 active and retired members from around the state of Wisconsin and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.

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