Five police officers from local departments in North Texas and a federal law enforcement official from the U.S. Coast Guard will be honored at the First Responder Bowl game on Dec. 26 when Boise State plays Boston College at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas.
The officers will be recognized for exemplary service to their communities, ranging from saving the life of a choking child and stopping an injured motorist from bleeding to death to stopping an active shooter and enabling a key federal witness in the prosecution of a foreign-owned company who was threatened for his cooperation to seek asylum and become employed in the U.S.
“These courageous public servants put their lives on the line every day to keep our communities safe,” said Gregory Smith, M.A., Director of the Institute for Law Enforcement Administration (ILEA), which, in conjunction with WatchGuard Video, organized the recognition event at the First Responder Bowl. “We are honored to recognize them for their service,” said Smith.
ILEA provides advanced courses, seminars and workshops for law enforcement executives, managers and supervisors to prepare them for today’s challenging management and ethical issues. ILEA is a division of the Center for American and International Law (CAIL), a non-profit organization headquartered in Plano, Texas that works to improve the quality of justice throughout the United States and the world.
The following law enforcement personnel will be honored during half-time:
- Officer Taylor Rust, Plano Police Department, Plano TX
Officer Rust was the first responder to a mass shooting at a home in Plano. He did not have an exact address, but he identified the home from three long bursts of gunfire and saw several people in the back yard who had been shot. A woman hiding there told him the gunman and other people were still inside the house. Without waiting for back up, Officer Rust immediately went alone to locate the shooter.
The suspect had an assault rifle on a sling, and appeared to be hunting more victims. The suspect faced Officer Rust and victims with his rifle in the ready position, so Officer Rust shot the gunman to end the killing. Eight people had been killed before Officer Rust arrived, but due to his quick and heroic action, one wounded victim and three others survived.
The actions of Officer Rust demonstrate extraordinary bravery and a willingness to save the lives of others without regard to his own personal safety. For his heroism, Officer Rust was a finalist in the 2018 International Association of Chiefs of Police (IACP) Target Officer of the Year award and was honored at the IACP national conference in Orlando.
- Lauretta Hill, Commissioner of Public Safety and Security, Dallas County Community College District
Commissioner Hill manages all public safety operation and emergency medical response for the Dallas County Community College District, one of the largest community college systems in Texas with seven independently accredited colleges. Her leadership and dedication to the highest level of professionalism in law enforcement have earned her the prestigious national 2018 Gary P. Hayes Award from the Police Executive Research Forum.
Prior to joining the Dallas County Community College District, Chief Hill served as Deputy Chief of the Miami Beach Police Department and before that, she worked at the Arlington, Texas Police Department, rising to the rank of Assistant Police Chief. During her service in Arlington she was recognized with the Arlington Officer of the Year award.
- Deputy Trenton Hill, Tarrant County Sheriff’s Office, TX
Deputy Hill is being honored for saving the life of a man who was severely injured with a wound to his right arm. When Deputy Hill arrived, the man was unresponsive and bleeding heavily. Deputy Hill acted quickly and decisively by applying a tourniquet and bandaging the wound prior to the arrival of EMS. In recognition of his work, Deputy Hill has received the Life Saving Award from the Tarrant County Sheriff’s office.
- Officer Michael Fitzgerald and Lieutenant Richard Boone, Red Oak Police Department, Red Oak, TX
Officer Fitzgerald and Lt. Boone are credited with saving the life of a 3-year-old boy whose mother had called 911 in a frantic effort to stop the child from choking. When the officers arrived, the child was conscious but he clearly had something lodged in his airway, and he was unable to breathe. Lt. Boone immediately delivered strong pats to the boy’s back, which dislodged the object so the child could breathe again.
In recognition of their quick action, Officer Fitzgerald received the department’s Meritorious Conduct Award and Lt. Boone received the Life Saving Award.
- Special Agent Thomas Gage, U.S. Coast Guard Investigative Service
pecial Agent Gage is being recognized for taking extraordinary measures to protect the safety of a federal witness and his family after his testimony was no longer needed.
While investigating a foreign-flagged vessel suspected of deliberately discharging oil and garbage in U.S. waters, Special Agent Gage identified a crewmember from the vessel who was able to provide extensive evidence used to convict the company. That crewmember was later contacted by representatives of his government who said they wanted to meet with him when he returned home, making him fear for his safety. The company also took steps to revoke his mariner’s license.
Special Agent Gage went beyond the call of duty to ensure that the witness and his family could obtain asylum in the U.S. He also helped the witness gain employment. For his meritorious leadership in this case, Special Agent Gage will receive the 2018 ILEA Ethical Courage Award during the half-time ceremony at the First Responder Bowl.
Watch the news coverage for the event: