Tomorrow night, the Milwaukee Police Department will honor the best of us – those men and women who went above and beyond the call of duty and earned recognition for meritorious service from MPD. We also will honor the service of those members of the community who worked with the police and made a difference in the lives of those they assisted.
We are marking Law Enforcement Memorial Week by posting stories of their heroism here on The Source.
Below are some of the MPD personnel who will receive Lifesaving awards at Tuesday’s night’s awards ceremony.
In the early evening hours of Tuesday, February 28, 2012, Police Officers Paul M. Helminiak and Christopher J. Peterson were dispatched to St. Mary’s Hospital. The 9-1-1 caller stated that her friend was talking irrationally, stating he was going to jump off the hospital’s roof. Officer Helminiak got the man’s cell phone number and had a conversation with him while in route to the scene. When they arrived, they observed the man standing on the narrow ledge of the parking structure roof. He had already cut one of his wrists and was heavily bleeding from the wound. Both officers engaged the man in a lengthy conversation in heavy rain and chilly temperatures lasting for more than 40 minutes. They were able to use several different tactics to get the man off the ledge and out of harm’s way.
In the early morning hours of Wednesday, October 12, 2011, Police Officers Jose A. Acevedo and Guadalupe A. Ramirez-Cervantes were on patrol in the 1500 block of West Washington Street when they smelled something burning. Nearby, they found a home fully engulfed in flames with people screaming that there were children were trapped inside. Officer Acevedo tried to enter the home, but thick smoke and flames forced him back. The smoke wasn’t as thick near the floor, so Officer Ramirez-Cervantes crawled into the kitchen using a towel to cover his face. About 15 feet inside, he found a child on the floor unconscious and not breathing. As he picked up the child, he was overcome by smoke and became disoriented, and was only able to escape by crawling toward the sound of his partner’s voice. Officer Acevedo immediately began CPR and the child was resuscitated and transported to Children’s Hospital in critical condition with burns over 45 percent of her body.
In the late evening hours of Friday, September 30, 2011, Police Officer Ralph L. Salyers III and his partner were on patrol in the 2100 block of West National Avenue when they heard a loud engine noise. They discovered that a man had passed out behind the wheel of his truck with his foot on the accelerator at full throttle. Flames were coming from the undercarriage, causing the bed-liner to ignite, filling the truck’s cabin with smoke. Without regard for their safety, the officers freed the incoherent driver and carried him to safety. He was taken to the hospital and diagnosed with a seizure caused by a brain disorder. Hospital personnel indicated that had the officers not acted quickly, the man could have died from a brain seizure or smoke inhalation.
On Sunday, August 7, 2011, Sergeant Roberta A. Klein and Police Officers Dorian L. Ratliff, Andres Cabral and Kevin M. Wilke were dispatched to the 200 block of North 16th Street for a woman threatening to jump from a bridge. Sergeant Klein calmly introduced herself and asked the woman about her situation. The woman had endured many misfortunes in her life and felt alone and helpless. Sergeant Klein and the officers kept up a dialogue with the woman while positioning themselves to grab her if she moved closer to the edge. When she let go of the pole she was holding and moved forward to jump, Sergeant Klein issued the order to “go” and the officers grabbed the woman and brought her safely onto the sidewalk.
As part of his training as a Police Dispatcher, Adrian J. Sanchez was assigned to work as a Telecommunicator in the Technical Communications Division. On Tuesday, December 20, 2011, he answered a call from a distraught man who indicated that he had taken a quantity of pills and was planning to jump off a bridge. Dispatcher Sanchez engaged the man in a lengthy conversation, empathizing with him, while trying to determine the man’s location. Dispatcher Sanchez kept the man on the line for more than 30 minutes until the man gave his location. Squads were able to locate him and provide emergency detention.