Jefferson City’s police chief has high praise for the heroism and professionalism displayed by his officers in numerous difficult circumstances during the past year.
Police chief Eric Wilde is grateful to the 17 JCPD employees and 911 operators who were honored last week.
“It’s the day in the life of a Jefferson City police officer, or any police officer. Everything that happens out there is unexpected. You never know what’s going to happen the next day. And I’m just so proud of our officers that they have that compassion, that care for the community, that they want to save lives everyday, every opportunity that they’re presented with,” Wilde says.
Chief Eric Wilde saw several of them tear-up.
“What happens during an award ceremony like this is that you really kind of start to relive that moment. And a lot of those moments you have when you’re saving lives can be pretty emotional. It can be stressful. You’ve got somebody’s life in your hands. Sometimes you’re successful, sometimes you’re not,” Wilde says.
JCPD officer Matthew Savallisch earned the medal of honor for a November 2022 incident involving a suicidal person on Madison street. Lieutenant David Williams and officers Josh Hagemeyer, Paul Gash, Cody Scheuler and Elisa McMahon earned the Jefferson City PD’s meritorious service medal. Police say the man threw himself off a 25-foot retaining wall, hanging himself. Officer Savallisch crawled under the fence and grabbed the man under his arms, lifting him up. Lt. Williams and the other officers secured Savallisch’s legs and gun belt to prevent him from falling over the wall. The other officers also lifted the victim and Savallisch up over the wall to safety.
Chief Wilde tells 939 the Eagle that every one of the officers and others honored last week were successful in saving lives. One of those honored was 911 operator Don McGovern, who received the first 911 call after the deadly November double homicide at J. Pfenny’s restaurant and bar. The first 911 call was an open line for almost 30 seconds, with people screaming and noises of tables and chairs being flipped over. Operator McGovern then heard someone on the call say there was a man shooting inside the bar. He radioed out “all units there’s an active shooter inside J. Pfenny’s bar” and relayed information about the suspect running out the back door. Within one minute of JCPD officers arriving, they had handcuffed suspect Damien Davis and secured his gun.