It was just one incident - but it’s a microcosm of what a law enforcement officer should be.
On the night of May 23, 2018, Culpeper Town Police Officers were called to the Novant Health UVA Health Center Culpeper Medical Center helipad for the report of a man with a shotgun to his head, threatening suicide.
Upon arrival, officers found the man standing with a shotgun in his mouth - that’s when Officer Johnny Slaughter went into action. Years ago, Slaughter had a man commit suicide in front of him with a different agency and he wasn’t about to let it happen again.
He calmly and quickly established a dialogue with the suicidal man, putting himself out in the open and in harm's way. For more than 30 minutes, Slaughter talked to the man in an attempt to get him to drop the weapon - setting up Sgt. Luke Altman to take a shot with a less-lethal shotgun that disabled the suicidal man and ended the harrowing standoff.
Slaughter was honored with the Virginia Association of Chiefs Police Life Saver Award May 22 at the Culpeper Town Police’s 2019 Life Saver Award Ceremony, while Altman also was recognized by Culpeper Chief Chris Jenkins for his work in the incident.
Germanna Community College Chief of Police Craig Branch pointed out how unique the situation must be for Slaughter to have earned the prestigious award.
“It’s an award that gets a lot of submissions,” Branch said. “It has to be a really tough situation to get awarded because of the numerous amounts of situations.”
Jeff Hetmanski, President and CEO of Novant Health UVA Health Center Culpeper Medical Center, personally thanked Slaughter for his actions that night, pointing out he didn’t get a chance to thank him until now.
“It’s truly impressive to hear about the remarkable contributions and some truly inspiring individual efforts,” Hetmanski said. “When I go home at night at hospital, I don’t get to lock my business. My emergency department is open 24-7. Nearly a year ago to the day, I received a phone call that no hospital administrator wants to receive. I was informed Culpeper law enforcement that there was an individual standing on my helipad with a shotgun, threatening to shoot himself. Knowing that I’ve got no less than 200 individuals that I’m directly responsible for, many of those patients, getting that phone call is harrowing. The situation ended peacefully, without loss of life and it was handled exceptionally.”
Jenkins praised his officers for their work, their training and their commitment to the community. More than 75 percent of the staff has received crisis intervention training and that training was evident with the 18 incidents that 14 officers were recognized for on Wednesday. Of the 18 incidents, 14 were drug overdoses, three were suicide attempts and one was a child with autism that was rescued by an officer. Novant Health UVA Health Center Culpeper Medical Center provides the CPD with NARCAN, that all officers carry on them at all times.
Jenkins shared a story about an article that he recently shared, asking if the public was asking law enforcement to do too much.
“My answer? No, because who would you call if you didn’t have these officers to call at 2 a.m. in the morning?” Jenkins asked. “I don’t think we’re asking too much, but in saying that I ask you to remember what these officers are enduring each and every night.”
Jenkins also said the partnerships the agency has within the community help save lives, presenting a special award to Alan Rasmussen, Rappahannock Rapidan Community Services Prevention Specialist.
Invoking Rasmussen’s now familiar phrase, “put the keys on the table,” Jenkins praised him for his work in suicidice prevention and opioid abuse. Rasmussen has been at the front lines for more than a decade, working with community coalitions and teaching life saving measures for both epidemics.
“I know this stuff goes on with the police department, but to be here tonight and hear all that goes on, and everything the law enforcement officers do in the area that I serve and I live - it blows my mind,” Rasmussen said. “It makes me feel safe and I admire the leadership and the people working the front lines.”
Rasmussen, as he’s always quick to do, pointed the spotlight at the coalitions - The Living the Dream Foundation, the Rusty Bowers Suicide Prevention Coaltion, Sex, Drugs and God, Come As You Are, Culpeper Overdose Awareness and many others.
“I’m one person and this prevention work, I know from experience, you do not get anything done unless you partner with individuals and organizations,” Rasmussen said. “I am representative of all the people I work with in all the organizations I deal with.”
The 14 officers recognized for their efforts were:
Officer Jacob Neal
On Jan. 20, 2018 Officer Neal responded to the area of Old Brandy and James Madison for a single vehicle accident, the vehicle had ran off the road through a fence into a field. Upon contact with the vehicle and occupants, Neal noticed a syringe lying on the lap of the passenger that was unconscious and the driver was having obvious signs of overdose as well. Neal immediately administered Narcan to the male passenger. Neal began tending to the female driver as she couldn't remain conscious. She eventually admitted using heroin and Xanax. She was arrested after being medically cleared. Neal was a new officer at the time of this incident but remained calm and relied on his training to save the life of another as well as take appropriate action of the impaired driver.
Sgt. Andy Berry
On Feb. 20 2019 Sgt. Berry responded to a local motel for a suspicious person in the parking lot. Upon arrival he was advised that the male had made it back to his room but appeared to be under the influence of something. Sgt. Berry tried to make contact at the room but initially the occupants wouldn't open the door. Finally the door opened and he saw a female laying on the bed in an obvious overdose situation. Captain Tim Chilton arrived with Narcan and threw it up to the second floor to Sgt. Berry at which time he administered 2 doses.
Officer Chris Dejarnette
On March 3rd 2018 Officer Dejarnette responded to the area of Route 3 and 29 for a reported person about to jump off the overpass bridge. Once on scene Dejarnette and two citizens were able to convince the distraught female to step back onto the highway from the bridge and speak with him. Dejarnette is certified in Crisis Intervention which is a skilled art of speaking with individuals in all types of crisis. Dejarnette was able to convince the female to come with him without incident and seek mental help. Dejarnette accompanied the female to the Hospital where she was evaluated and began her road to treatment. While speaking with the female Dejarnette learned that she had been driving around all over Fredericksburg and Culpeper looking for a place to end her life. Dejarnettes calm demeanor and attention to his training was the saving grace for this female in her most trying of times.
Officer Jacob Neal, Officer Archer Minor, Officer Chris Dejarnette
On March 4, 2018 Dejarnette responded to a reported CPR in progress. Upon arrival he found an unresponsive male laying on the floor. He quickly determined that the male was in an overdose situation. Dejarnette administered the first dose of Narcan as Officers Minor and Neal arrived. A second dose of Narcan was given and Dejarnette began CPR as Officer Neal set up the automatic defibrillator and attached it to the victim. Officer Minor took over the second round of chest compressions. Immediately after the second round of compressions a steady heart rate was established.
Officer Nolan Overby
On March 6, 2018 Officer Overby responded to an overdose call in the Belle Court area. Upon arrival he located a female on the floor unresponsive. Overby was told by a male on scene that the female victim abuses narcotic pain killers and she may have taken too many. Overby immediately assessed the situation and administered 1 dose of Narcan and set up the automatic defibrillator. As the rescue personnel arrived the victim began to breathe freely and was transported to the hospital.
Officer Chris Dejarnette
On March 18, 2018 Officer Dejarnette responded to the 800 block of Willis lane for a reported overdose. Upon arrival he located a male unresponsive in the hotel room chair. Immediately he could tell that the person was in an overdose situation. Dejarnette administered the first dose of Narcan while attempting to get some history from an on scene witness. The witness relayed that the victim had been using cocaine and alcohol most of the evening. A second dose of narcan was given before the victim began to regain consciousness. Officer Dejarnette was then faced with the next dilemma that is all too common in these situations, four children were in the room with the victim and now needed supervision. Social services was called and had to respond while Dejarnette responded with the victim to the hospital.
Officer John Bahl, Officer John Minor
On March 27, 2018 Officer Bahl responded to a local motel for a reported unknown illness. Upon arrival Bahl was taken to a room where he was met by a screaming female asking for Narcan for her friend. Bahl made his way into the room where he found a male unresponsive on the floor. He gave the subject 2 doses of Narcan over the next few minutes with no relief, Officer Minor then gave a 3rd dose of narcan. Almost immediately the victim began to wake up and breathe normally,
Lt. Kevin Tooley, Officer Chris Dejarnette, Officer John Minor
On April 1, 2018 Lieutenant Tooley and Officer Minor responded to an unconscious male in a bathtub at a residence off Sunset lane. After assessing the situation they could see that the male was in an obvious overdose situation. Officer Minor gave a dose of Narcan while Tooley prepared the automatic defibrillator and hooked it to the victim. They removed the male from the bathtub and Minor gave the second dose of Narcan. As soon as the male began to regain consciousness he became combative with the rescue staff that had taken over his care. Minor, Tooley, and Dejarnette had to restrain him until he calmed down while the rescue crew continued to stabilize him.
Sgt. Luke Altman, Officer Johnny Slaughter
Recognized for their efforts at Culpeper Medical Center on May 23, 2018.
Officer John Minor, Officer Chris Dejarnette
On June 6, 2018 these officers were dispatched to the 200 block of Chandler street for a reported overdose. Upon arrival they located a female in the bedroom floor unresponsive with a male friend over her stating that he had just given her a dose of Narcan. With still no signs of life Dejarnette and Minor prepared two more doses of Narcan for use. Dejarnette gave the first dose immediately after assessing the victim then Minor followed with another dose when they noticed more frequent breaths and the heartbeat returning to normal.
Officer Matt Haymaker, Officer Chris Garcia
On July 2, 2018 Officers Garcia and Haymaker responded to an attempted suicide call in the 400 block of Hill street Upon arrival the officers were met by a female and her children in a bedroom with a locked closet door. The female stated that her boyfriend had locked himself in and she thought he was trying to harm himself. The officers were able to get the female and children to a safe place in the home as they made entry into the closet. There they found a male hanging from an electricat cord, immediately they began to lift him up to release the pressure and he gasped for air as they untied the cord. They were able to remove the male from the closet as the rescue personnel arrived and continued treatment prior to transport to the hospital.
Officer Matt Satterfield
On July 6, 2018 Officer Satterfield responded to help locate a missing child that had wandered away from her home in the 2000 block of Magnolia circle. Once on scene they also found out that the missing female had autism and possibly would not communicate if she heard her name. Officer Satterfield had some prior knowledge of the area and began searching towards the most dangerous hazard in the area, which was a drainage pond. As Officer Satterfield made his way to the pond he fell over a barbed wire fence, this proved to be a blessing in disguise. When Satterfield began to stand up he saw movement in the water and located the female sitting in the pond completely covered in mud. Satterfield attempted to keep her calm as he pulled her from the knee deep mud and water, but she struggled a little covering the officer with the same red mud. Satterfield was able to soothe her by talking about her dad and that they were going to see him. The mud covered pair met the frantic father at the end of the construction site.
Officer Nolan Overby, Deputy Mike Mawdsley
On Aug. 2, 2018 Officers Overby and Mawdsley responded to the 100 block of Standpipe road for a reported suspicious person call. Once on scene Officer Overby was met by a homeowner that showed him a male laying on her parking pad unconscious. As they officers approached they noticed the signs of an overdose. Overby immediately gave a dose of Narcan while trying to get the male to respond. As the victim began to breathe more frequent Mawdsley gave the 2nd dose of Narcan prior to the arrival of rescue personnel.
Officer John Minor
On February 6, 2019 Officer Minor was dispatched to an attempted suicide call in the 600 block of Clubhouse way. Upon arrival Minor was met by a hysterical female in the driveway covered in blood and bleeding profusely from her wrist. Officer Minor was able to put on his personal protective equipment and try to render aid. The female initially wouldn't let Minor near her and kept stating that she wanted to die". Minor was able to control her long enough to apply a tourniquet that our officers carry on them while on duty. Minor struggled with the female to get the tourniquet in place high enough on her bicep to stop the bleeding. As he was able to calm the victim the rescue personnel arrived and quickly assessed that the victim would need to be flown to a trauma center.
Officer Kate Keat
On March 19, 2019 Officer Keat responded to an overdose in the 100 block of South West street. Upon arrival she was met by a witness stating that there was an unconscious female in the residence that had used heroin. Keat proceeded into the residence and located the victim by hearing the occasional deep agonal breathing. Located in the basement on a mattress the female was in obvious distress. Keat administered one dose of Narcan and the female began to respond and take more frequent breaths. Rescue arrived and gave more Narcan prior to transporting her to the hospital.