Police officers assigned to the Tenderloin Task Force (TTF) know there is no such thing as a routine day in their district. Take, for instance, the incident Officer Leonard Poggio experienced while patrolling TTF territory at 7:30 a.m. when a pick-up truck went racing by him on Turk Street going about 50 mph with a woman in the bed of the truck screaming for help. Officer Poggio initiated a pursuit until the driver of the truck got caught up in traffic. Once that happened the driver of the truck had nowhere to go and Officer Poggio and posse were able detain him.
Turned out that both the driver and his reluctant passenger/victim had an illegal business relationship of sorts consummated within the victim’s bedroom nearby after which the driver/suspect stole the woman’s purse that was filled with “tips” from her other clients earlier in the evening.
The suspect then ran to his truck and tried to escape. And that’s when his victim jumped into the back of the truck calling for help while the driver sped through the neighborhood trying to scare her into disembarking.
While the driver, hopefully, won’t be scaring anyone for a while, Officer Poggio was extremely fortunate having had Sergeant Trevor Kelly, Sergeant Adam Shaw, and Lieutenant David Dorantes as passengers in his car at the time not only as back-ups but to also serve as witnesses to the somewhat bizarre pursuit because it just wouldn’t happen anywhere else… except for the TTF.
Now most officers would agree that “the job” doesn’t require super human strength when you’re chasing down felons with outstanding warrants but every once in a while it probably wouldn’t hurt.
Take, for example, the pursuit of a stolen auto through the downtown streets of The City initiated by Officer Anthony Graziano and Officer Anthony Yang. The officers soon realized that it was too dangerous to continue so they dropped off. But the suspects didn’t. The suspects continued their erratic driving until they injured a pedestrian walking his dog and, at the same intersection, took out a fire hydrant.
While the passenger tried to escape from the area, he was later located by Officer Graziano and Oficer Yang and placed under arrest for an outstanding robbery arrest warrant. The driver as well was later tracked down and booked on an outstanding felony warrant for aggravated assault.
Meanwhile, Sergeant Phillip Haymond had responded to the scene of the accident that occurred once the pursuit was dropped and was told by bystanders that they thought there was someone trapped under the suspect’s car after it crushed the fire hydrant. Sergeant Haymond couldn’t see if anyone was under the car because of the damage done as well as the water rushing out so he called for reinforcements and was joined by the TTF Lift Team consisting of: Officer Milad Rashidian, Officer Paul Vainshtok, Officer Frank Olcomendy, Officer Keith Murphy, and Officer Robert Gilson who, all together, managed to raise the 3,000 pound vehicle so they could check underneath and, fortunately, there was no one trapped.
The injured pedestrian who sustained broken bones in his foot was very appreciative of what all the officers did and he is now recovering with his canine companion, “Sergeant Pepper”, who, fortunately, was not injured.
And yes, that was another TTF case.
But the officers at Bayview District have a lot to be proud of as well. Officer Laura Cremen and Officer Lazaro Villaozano were on routine patrol when Officer Cremen noticed that the car that just committed a minor vehicle infraction right in front of them matched the description of a vehicle wanted for a robbery earlier in the evening that occurred in the Central District.
The victim was a loss prevention agent who was beaten badly by 3 suspects. A further investigation revealed that the driver was one of the 3 felons wanted and the car was definitely involved as well.
Sergeant Jarrod Yee prepared a Captain’s Commendation for both officers citing, “Officer Cremen and Officer Villalozano’s keen observation skills with their ability to recall the suspect vehicle description was admirable. Their teamwork and ensuing investigation resulted in a violent felon being arrested within 24 hours of the initial crime.”
A job well done.
Officer Ana Cuthbertson and Officer Joshua McFall did an outstanding job during an investigation of a recovered vehicle. Seems that the car was stolen a month prior and during that time the victim believed that the keys left in car were used by the thieves to ransack her home. The officers checked on the status of the recovered vehicle and found that a suspect was actually arrested during the recovery process and was still in custody at the county jail.
A quick check of the suspect’s property revealed numerous items taken from the residence of the victim so a new list of charges were filed against the individual incarcerated.
Sergeant Heather Fegan submitted a Commendation for the officers citing, “Their continued investigation led to the recovery of valued treasures and immeasurable gratitude form the victim. The streets of the Richmond District are a safer place today because of Officers Cuthbertson and Officer McFall.”
We’ve been chronicling what appears to be a seriously broken Medal of Valor Awards system within the Department which, no doubt, has a direct impact on morale. There’s a simple way to correct the delays but you need someone within the process to make the effort. That someone should be a Police Commissioner who is willing to sit down with the POA and make the changes necessary to expedite the process.
It doesn’t seem fair for the officers to put their lives on the line every day and, when it comes to being recognized for an outstanding job, the process breaks down.
The following is an excerpt taken from a report prepared by Captain Jack Hart, Commanding Officer Ingleside Police Station (who always does a tremendous job,) dated May 21, 2018. It was received by the Police Commission June 4, 2018. It was a request for consideration to award Medals of Valor to Officer Kevin Endo, Officer Tess Casey, Officer John Hoge, Officer Jose Rosales-Renteria, Officer Jiselle Glover, Officer Mark Lustenberger, and Sergeant Lloyd Martin:
“On 3/21/2018, at approximately 1628 hours, Dispatch broadcast a person with a gun in front of a residence call. Dispatch described the suspect as a cousin threatening his family, on drugs, who flashed a gun from under his jacket and was attempting to break into their house.” (The info changed) Officers were then told that the suspect had retreated to a nearby barber shop.
The officers saw a person matching the suspect’s description and Officer Casey and Officer Endo entered the barber shop. Within 2.4 seconds of the officers entering the barber shop they were fired upon by the suspect.
One of the first rounds fired by the suspect struck Officer Endo, shattering his leg. “From the ground Officer Endo drew his firearm, returned fire, and stopped the threat.”
Simultaneously, Officer Casey, while being fired on and in close quarters, drew her firearm, returned fire and remained to assist in the handcuffing of the armed suspect along with Officer Jose Rosales-Renteria.”
All of the other officers mentioned, while not having to use their weapons, were exposed to the same danger at different levels.
These officers overcame being shot at and, with the threat of death/great bodily injury still remaining, had the presence of mind and selfless bravery to render life-saving rescue and coordination efforts that gave the San Francisco General Hospital’s staff the best opportunity to not only save Officer Endo’s life but the functionality of his right leg as well.
The request for consideration of medals of valor for these officers is still sitting in the Police Commission’s Office after 2 years.
These officers had less than 2.4 seconds to react to a life-threatening dynamic coming close to death.
The Police Commission has had over 2 years to consider a simple request.
Your move Commissioners.