On November 7th at the Sheraton Hotel the Seattle Police Department held its annual Seattle Police Awards Banquet. Through the support of the Seattle Police Foundation and its sponsors, the department is able to hold this event where officers, civic leaders, and the community can come together to honor and thank those who work tirelessly every day to make the city of Seattle a safer place. The banquet is a rare opportunity to hear the untold stories or heroism, courage, and compassion that those in the Seattle Police Department undertake every day.
Comedian and entertainer Pat Cashman emceed the night’s event and brought levity and humor, with speakers including Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, Seattle Police Chief Kathleen O’Toole, and Seattle Police Foundation Chairman Mike Sotelo. Officers and civilians were given awards for life saving, excellence, as well the Medal of Honor, Courage, and Valor. While there were many inspiring stories throughout the night, some were particularly impactful.
Officers Ryan Gallagher and Jeremy Wade were recognized as Officers of the Year for their work with the Beds for Kids Project. What started as one act of generosity by these officers to provide beds for two young girls in-need became a partnership with the Seattle Police Foundation and Ikea to provide beds to children all throughout the community. Officers Gallagher and Wade worked tirelessly throughout the summer, and with the help of volunteers from Ikea, the Seattle Police Foundation, and the Seattle Police Department, the project was able to provide fifty beds to children throughout the community.
Numerous individuals were also recognized for their acts of bravery during the 2013 Metro Bus shooting; an event that was truly a department-wide effort to protect the lives of the people of Seattle. Officer Kaitlyn Windus was awarded with the Medal of Courage and recognized for setting up security at the scene while Officer James Stephens earned the Medal of Valor for helping to subdue the suspect. Four officers earned the Medal of Honor for their work that day including engaging the suspect as well as helping to protect innocent bystanders.
In one of the most powerful moments of the night, former officer Mark Sigfrinius was awarded the Medal of Honor. In 1989, Mark, a twenty-two year veteran of the Seattle Police Department, was involved in a traffic stop and shooting. While his efforts ultimately led to the capture of the suspects, the incident left Mark paralyzed from the waist down. In accepting the Medal of Honor, Mark spoke extensively about the support Seattle Police Officers have given him, not just after his injury, but the support he continues to receive.
At the end of the night an ask was put out to everyone in attendance to help continue to support the great work the Seattle Police Foundation does to help the department and foster community engagement. Those in attendance, through generous donations and participating in the night’s auction, were able to raise over one hundred and ten thousand dollars. The money raised will go towards the Seattle Police Foundation’s important work in building community partnerships, providing for specialized department training, and providing the Seattle Police Department with advanced crime fighting technology equipment – all to help create a strong bond between the SPD and the community and to help make Seattle a safer place.