DENVER — Eighteen Denver officers were honored Thursday for several heroic actions during the Denver Police Department and Denver Police Foundation’s annual awards banquet. These are the highest awards given by the department.
The officers were honored for knowing what to do with just a split second being the difference between life and death.
“Without a doubt, the craziest call I’ve been on in my career so far,” Cpl. Greg Vacca said.
Vacca was called to a house for a disturbance.
“There was a naked man reaching for my granddaughter,” David Lovatto said.
Lovatto says he fought with the man for several minutes until police arrived.
“Cpl. Vacca kept his composure, knew what he was doing, spoke in authority and immediately made the apprehension. I was very fortunate to have him arrive when he did. The assailant had a knife, was right on my throat and I could barely get it off,” Lovatto said.
Vacca received the Medal of Valor for getting the suspect off the victim and into custody.
“It was a surreal experience. I mean, we are trained to deal with this kind of thing, but you really never know how you’re going to deal with it until it happens. It means a lot to me. I don’t do this for awards. I would do the same thing for anybody in any other day,” Vacca said.
“He is my hero for sure,” Lovatto said. He said his granddaughter has recovered well, has earned her black belt in karate and is inspired by Vacca to become a Denver police officer.
Detective Travis Lloyd received the department’s highest award, the Medal of Honor, as well as the purple heart for being injured in a shootout with a man who stole a cash register from a 7/11 on Colfax.
“It’s humbling, it`s definitely very humbling, very cool. It could`ve gone a very different way,” Lloyd said.
He has made a full recovery and is back on the job. His partner that night, Officer Sean Drew, received the Medal of Valor.
“We’d been partners a little over a year and a half. He’s an amazing guy. I trust him immensely. When you react to situations like that and you have that partner, you know they are handling themselves. They are right behind you. Had my injury been more severe, he would’ve been there to put the tourniquet on. Sean Drew is one of the greatest partners ever,” Lloyd said.
Retired Detective William Gallegos received the Chairman’s Legacy Award.
Sgt. Bobby Waidler received the Above and Beyond Award.
Detective James Anderson received the Officer of the Year Award.
Detective Travis Lloyd received the Medal of Honor and Purple Heart.
Officer Sean Drew received the Medal of Valor for the incident on Colfax that started with an armed robbery and ended with a shootout.
Sgt. Jess Leuthauser and Lieutenant Edward Leger received the Medal of Valor for rescuing an elderly woman from a burning house.
Officer Brent Cairns received the Medal of Valor for chasing down a bank robbery suspect who was armed with a semi-automatic weapon.
Cpl. Greg Vacca received the Medal of Valor.
Sgt. Perry Speelman, Officer Juan Gamboa and Officer Raul Baron received the Distinguished Service Cross for resolving a situation with a suicidal man who had a number of rifles, pistols and ammunition in his house.
Detective Randall Krouse and officer Martin Tritschler received the Distinguished Service Cross for tracking down and arresting a murder suspect who was on the FBI’s Terrorist Watch List.
Detective Randall Krouse and Officer Martin Tritschler received the Preservation of Life Award for talking a gunman into putting down his weapon.
Officer Vincent Talty and Officer Michael Pineda received the Preservation of Life Award for taking a man with a knife into custody.
Officer John Ashcroft and officer Nicole Batiste received the Preservation of Life Award for wrestling a knife away from a suspect who was threatening someone.
Officer Andrew Stadler received the Preservation of Life Award for subduing a knife-wielding suspect.
FOX31 and Channel 2’s Deborah Takahara emceed the event.