Department Awards Recognize Outstanding Service
Marshfield, WI (OnFocus) The Marshfield Police Department recognized several of its members whose service to the community has gone above and beyond.
Peace Officer Memorial Day, hosted by the Marshfield Professional Police Association, took place Thursday evening at Wildwood Park and honored two fallen Wisconsin police officers from 2018, Michael John Michalski and Charles Irvine Junior of the Milwaukee Police Department.
Also recognized were retired ordinance officer Dan Leonard for 28 years of service and retired Officer David Mattheisen for 27 years. Mattheisen held numerous roles as a SWAT member, field trainer, vehicle safety instructor, and more. Both were awarded the Fred Beell Service Award, which is presented annually to retired officers who have served Marshfield for 25 years or more.
Three special department awards were given out to recognize distinguished service by an officer or non-sworn member.
“You may hear the next three people mention that they haven’t done anything special, or anything that anyone else would not have done, but they did it and they did it naturally without even thinking. And they will do it again, day in and day out,” said Police Chief Rick Gramza.
Auxiliary Director Seth Stankowski was awarded Support Staff Member of the Year. Stankowski joined the Marshfield Police Auxiliary in fall 2014 after attending the citizen’s police academy and was elected the auxiliary director in 2017. He was also voted auxiliary member of the year in 2017 by the full membership.
“As of this date, Seth has donated approximately 631 hours of his time to help the citizens of Marshfield, which does not include managing and preparing for the various events, trainings, and meetings he has assumed the responsibility for,” Gramza said.
In 2016 Stankowski was hired as a transport officer to bring suspects to county jail, often at the last minute and at odd hours. That year he also became a park patrol officer, patrolling nights in the summer and fall to make sure the parks are safe and secure. To both these roles he has dedicated 530 hours.
Gramza described an incident where Stankowski came in at 1 a.m. on New Years Eve to transport an intoxicated person to jail. “He was willing to clean up what was formerly described as pizza from the backseat of the squad. When the jail ran out of cleaning supplies, he bravely drove back with the windows merely cracked in cold weather to finish the cleaning job at the police department. This is the true definition of above and beyond.”
In addition to his duties at the department, Stankowski works full-time but continues to respond to emails and plan events even while out of state.
“Seth was once asked if he would consider a career in law enforcement,” said Gramza. “Seth paused, smiled, and stated that he would, but he didn’t want to take a pay cut.”
For performance that goes above and beyond normal duties, the Officer of the Year award was awarded to Libby Abel.
“Officer Abel has impressed many since the day she began employment with us in 2014,” said Gramza. “She is willing to help and jump in to lighten the load of her peers. She desires to be the best she can be for the men and women she works with, for the community, for the citizens and visitors who may rely upon this organization.”
Abel’s 66 drug arrests and 22 intoxicated driver arrests in 2018 were the most in the county.
“Libby has a reputation with those who choose to commit crime as an aggressive officer who digs deep to find truth while treating those she encounters with dignity and respect,” he said.
Abel worked 270 hours of overtime last year to fill short shifts or lend a hand when extra officers were needed. She is a less lethal instructor, a SWAT team member, and a newly appointed firearms instructor. Abel is described is the go-to person to confer with on search and seizure laws, patrol-related drug investigations, and drafting a search warrant.
This year, she began serving as Pathway Partners mentor at the Marshfield High School to advise youth considering law enforcement as a career.
The final award of the event went to Lt. Travis Esser, who was presented with the Fred Beell Honors Award. The award is given for high acts of bravery and the exercise of sound judgement in high risk situations.
Esser was one of the responders called to an incident of a man threatening others with a knife in a residential neighborhood last July. He positioned the squad vehicle at the end of the street and used a less lethal 12 gauge bean bag shotgun to subdue the suspect before calling for K9 H to be released and perform a live bite.
“This team of officers did a fantastic job of handling this call safely,” said Gramza. “Here is a situation where deadly force would have been justified. However, Lt. Esser recognized that there was appropriate staff on site to deploy less lethal options with lethal cover, which was successful.
“All officers involved continually displayed sound judgement and leadership within their prospective roles in this incident. They set a great example for other officers to follow, and they are the prime example of why our community has such great respect for this department.”
Esser commended the other responders involved in the situation and stated it was a true team effort.
The event concluded with a 21-gun salute by the Marshfield Police Honor Guard and a community meal.