Two KC officers awarded for Joplin efforts

Joplin police created an award to bestow upon people who helped them the most after a tornado ravaged their city in May.

Today, two Kansas City officers will receive the special medals in a ceremony at Kansas City police headquarters. Capt. Mike Wood and Sgt. Tye Grant are among just seven recipients — including Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon — outside of the Joplin Police Department to be honored with the medals that are engraved with a Latin saying that means, “A new beginning.”

“Nobody, ever in the history of the police department will get this medal again,” said Joplin police Lt. Darren Gallup, in describing the rarity of the award.

Wood and Grant drove to Joplin the night of the tornado— not as officers, but as regular citizens who wanted to help. When Kansas City police commanders found out, they asked them to coordinate the efforts of about 50 officers and civilians they planned to send down the next day.

Kansas City officers took charge of protecting the city’s hospital and several medical buildings for weeks after the tragedy. The officers also patrolled the area, working in 12-hour shifts to provide 24-hour coverage and helping with security for a visit by President Obama.

Gallup said Joplin police and residents knew they could count on Kansas City’s officers.

“Anytime we needed anything, it was done,” he said. Gallup said the awards to Wood and Grant represent the appreciation Joplin feels for the entire Kansas City police department.

Other awards expected to be presented today by Kansas City police include:

•  Certificates of commendation for officers Kenny Miller and Doug Harr, who helped a homeless woman apply for Veteran’s Affairs benefits to which she was entitled. The officers also helped her find an apartment through a local social services agency.

•  Meritorious service awards for Officer Jason Cooley and Sgt. Cindy Cotterman, who pushed for a city ordinance to help prosecute burglaries and arsons at vacant homes.

•  Lifesaving award for Officer Sebastien Hanriot, who helped save an unconscious woman with no pulse by giving her cardiopulmonary resuscitation until an ambulance arrived.

•  A special unit citation to detectives who recently solved the 1970 Leon Jordan murder and a certificate of appreciation to community activist Alvin Sykes, who pushed for police to reopen the case.

To reach Christine Vendel, call 816-234-4438 or email cvendel@kcstar.com.