OPP honour achievements at regional awards ceremony
October 5, 2023 By David Briggs, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Oct. 5, 2023, Powassan, Ont. – The Ontario Provincial Police held its annual North East Region Awards Ceremony yesterday in Powassan. Hundreds filed into the 250 Clark facility to honour those for their service to the community, and for going above and beyond the call of duty.
There was no shortage of heroic tales, as many were awarded for bravery and for saving lives – police and citizens alike.
“It shows the strength of character that exists within our communities,” said Thomas Carrique, Commissioner of the OPP. “Much of it should be taken as inspiration that ordinary people can do extraordinary things when called upon.”
“I am extremely grateful for our citizens for getting involved, and you heard today where they changed and saved lives.”
The Commissioner was speaking about citizens like Gary Bown and Rob Shaw, who rescued a snowmobiler who had crashed through the ice, or David Leahy, who performed CPR on a baby who had ingested drugs and saved the child’s life.
There are many more examples, such as Helen Lebel from Kapuskasing, who performed CPR on a neighbour in distress and her actions let that neighbour live to see many more days. She’s a nurse, so she’s used to helping people, it’s ingrained in her character. Asked if she felt like a hero, she chuckled, and reflected for a moment.
“I did what I had to do.”
Acts of bravery were also acknowledged at the ceremony. A handful were honoured, including Constable Steven Johnson, who didn’t hesitate to try to put out a fiery auto crash, and Sgt. Bryan Boshold, rescued a boater from dangerous waters. Constable Simon Chartrand dealt with a hostage situation, and his bravery too was acknowledged.
Commissioner Carrique and Mike Pilon, Chief Superintendent for the North East Region, handed out the awards. Just over 100 people were recognized, and Superintendent Jon Dumond hosted the event, introducing each recipient and explaining to those gathered why they were being honoured.
Not all recipients were able to attend, however many did, including most of the 35 officers who received a Police Exemplary Service Medal. Others received a Police Exemplary Service Medal First Bar, and 23 civilians were presented with a 20-Year OPP Civilian Service pin.
April Robins and Charles ‘Chuck’ King were given pins for 30 years of OPP Civilian service.
Working with the OPP gives people “great purpose,” the Commissioner said. “This is an extremely rewarding career. There is no other career where you can have the impact on individual lives like you can as a police officer.”
Gratitude and acknowledgement were also given to the families and loved ones of the officers, who made those long hours and difficult times all worthwhile.
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