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Friday, May 16, 2008

The right person, the right place, the right time

By Dan Plutchak/The Week

Dan Plutchak/The Week
Members of the Walworth County Sheriff's Department were honored during an awards ceremony Wednesday. L-R: Lori Hintz, accepting for her husband, Deputy Jason Hintz; Undersheriff Kurt Picknell; Pat Wierenga, accepting for her husband Deputy Robert Wierenga; Sgt. Robert Hall; Deputy Todd Neumann; Sgt. Mark Roum; Deputy Kirk Dodge; Sgt. Howard Sawyers, Deputy Troy Pagenkopf and Deputy James Trussler. Not pictured are Deputy Tim Ruszkiewicz and State Trooper Josh Riley.
It was only a coincidence that Kirk Dodge was among the first Walworth County Sheriff's deputies on the scene in Delavan last June where Ambrosio Analco killed five people, then took his own life.

It's hard to argue that Dodge wasn't the best man for the job.

"He's one of those guys who performs under pressure," said Sheriff David Graves. "He knows how to apply what he's learned."

For his actions that day, Dodge received the Lifesaving Award Wednesday during ceremonies at the Walworth County Law Enforcement Center.

Dodge was among 12 members of law enforcement to receive special recognition.

Dodge was one of the first to respond to the apartment in Delavan June 9 of last year. As he began to assess the scene, Dodge came across Analco's 20-month-old daughter Jasmine in a minivan parked outside the home.

Still unsure if there was a shooter on the loose, Dodge took the keys from the ignition, picked up Jasmine and rushed her to safety.

He discovered she had been shot in the chest, and quickly brought her to emergency personnel. Jasmine was the lone victim to survive the ordeal.

Dodge then returned to the scene to lead the entry team into the apartment.

Graves praised Dodge, saying, "His actions saved the life of the 2-year-old child."

Other award winners include:

Lifesaving Award: Undersheriff Kurt Picknell, Sgt. Robert Hall, Deputy James Trussler, Deputy Todd Neumann and Wisconsin State Trooper Josh Riley.

Rob Keefe was clearing a drainage pipe from a retention pond in LaFayette Township when he slipped and was nearly sucked into the opening.

He was stuck for nearly 20 minutes when his 10-year-old daughter Bridget called 911.

When the rescuers arrived, they quickly put a rope around Keefe to prevent him from sliding further into the pipe. They were able to free him before the dive rescue team arrived.

Graves said Keefe was "enormously grateful for the quick response and the determination those guys showed in pulling me out of that pipe."

Distinguished Service Award: Deputy Jason Hintz and Dep. Robert Wierenga.

Canine handlers Hintz and Wierenga were called on to assist in the search for the killer of Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputy Frank Fabiano Jr. in May of 2007.

Fabiano Jr., had been shot during a traffic stop and the suspect fled into a heavily wooded area.

Wieringa led the canine team in the search, and Hintz eventually flushed the suspect.

Graves said the canine team was instrumental in the capture of the armed and dangerous suspect.

Distinguished Service Award: Sgt. Mark Roum and Sgt. Howard Sawyers.

Roum and Sawyers have been instrumental in implementing new technologies that have allowed the sheriff's department to become more effective, Graves said.

Among his accomplishments, Sawyer helped implement a new inmate calling system for the jail as well as working with the new electronic monitoring system.

Roum recently completed work on TraCS, an electronic data collection system.

It simplifies the process for issuing citations and keeps patrolmen on the road where they belong, Graves said.

Meritorious Service Award: Deputy Tim Ruszkiewicz

Deputy Ruszkiewicz was off duty and driving through Elkhorn in May of 2007, when he came across a vehicle pulling a tent.

When he stopped to inquire, the driver asked Ruszkiewicz if he wanted to by some Valium, Graves said.

Ruszkiewicz pulled out his wallet, but instead of cash, the driver saw Ruszkiewicz's badge.

Ruszkiewicz was honored for going above and beyond the call of duty.

Medal of honor: Deputy Troy Pagenkopf

Pagenkopf was one of three rescuers who pulled a man from a burning building in the Lyons Township. The victim was discovered lying face down inside the burning building. He was rescued and taken to the hospital and survived.

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