UOPD honors lifesavers at its annual awards ceremony

On three occasions over the past 12 months, UO Police Department officers provided lifesaving first aid to individuals on or near the University of Oregon’s Eugene campus.

The officers, including Officer Zack Hermens who was involved in all three incidents, were honored with Life Saving Awards on Feb. 24 during the annual UOPD awards ceremony, which was held virtually this year. Officer Andy Johnson and Sergeant Chris Phillips also were honored with the award.

In all three incidents, the individuals in question were experiencing a drug overdose and UOPD officers revived them by administering Naloxone, also known as Narcan.

Narcan, which is administered nasally, is designed to stop an opioid overdose. After introducing the tool at UOPD in recent years, all officers now carry Narcan while on patrol. Patrolling officers also have access at all times to an automated external defibrillator, which can save a person suffering cardiac arrest.

Since 2015, UOPD officers have saved the lives of nine people in a variety of ways, UOPD Police Chief Matt Carmichael told attendees.

“We save lives here at the UOPD,” Carmichael said. “Because the UOPD exists, many community members are still here today because our quick response and exceptional training.”

Also honored during the awards were UO Chief Resilience Officer Andre Le Duc, who activated and has led the response teams to help the UO address the COVID-19 pandemic; UOPD Capt. Jason Wade, for quickly instituting and educating the department on new safety protocols at the start of the pandemic; and community service Officer Rebekah Galick, for her dedication to student-oriented services.

Other awardees included student employee of the year Adrian Sampredo-Cruz, interim Clery coordinator Kelly McIver, Ducks Rides program assistant manager Talon Kennedy, administrative assistant Melody Keene, Finance and Administration Shared Services Director Jon Marchetta, UOPD Capt. Don Morris, Cpl. Adam Lillengreen, Det. Sgt. Kathy Flynn, and officers Carol Lawton and Geri Brooks. 

The ceremony also honored Samyon Pendergrass of Springfield as Community Member of the Year for coming to the aid of a UOPD officer who was being assaulted by an individual who was resisting arrest.

The ceremony comes as UOPD begins to implement some significant operational changes, which include reducing the number of armed officers while increasing unarmed community service officers.

UO President Michael H. Schill, who attended the ceremony, noted the renewed national debate about the role of law enforcement agencies and congratulated the department for “leaning into” difficult conversations about potential changes.

“As we continue the important work of creating a more inclusive campus, where everyone can feel safe, I ask that you stay engaged with open minds and open hearts and continue to be an example of community policing in practice,” he said. 

Carmichael awarded every member of the department a 2020 challenge coin to symbolize the department’s ongoing commitment to community service during a historically difficult year.

“The misdeeds of others in our profession have challenged the concepts of community policing at their very core,” he said. “Yet every day we come to work in the face of these challenges with no hesitation. Our employees care for our students and other members of our community.”

By Saul Hubbard, University Communications