Officer Roy Gilbert of the Detroit Police Department has been named the 2007 Police Officer of the Year by PARADE magazine and the International Association of Chiefs of Police. Officer Gilbert is honored for his heroic actions by risking his life to save his partner.
The Police Officer of the Year Award, which is announced in this Sunday's issue of PARADE, will be presented to Officer Gilbert, 42, at a ceremony on Tuesday, October 16, in New Orleans, La., during the annual conference of the IACP. Thirteen additional officers will receive honorable mention.
In the middle of the night on Dec. 30, 2006, Officer Gilbert and his partner, Officer John McKee, 35, were following a vehicle that had been carjacked. When the driver suddenly stopped and fled down an alley, Gilbert gave chase on foot. McKee followed in the patrol car as the suspect ran into a parking lot. "The guy ran behind my car," McKee recalls, "and I got out and went to tackle him. He reached over and shot me in the face. I didn¹t know he had a gun." Officer Gilbert ran to his injured partner and started firing back at the suspect. "This guy was not going down," he recalls.
Maneuvering between McKee and the gunman, Gilbert fired 11 times. The suspect died at the hospital later that night. "Roy saved my life, most definitely," says McKee, who is returning to patrol following months of recovery. "If Roy hadn't been there, the guy would've finished me off." Despite his heroic actions that night, Gilbert shrugs off the hero label. "I hate to look at it like that," he says. "I did what partners are supposed to do."
In addition, 13 officers will receive honorable mention at the Police Service Awards luncheon: Sgt. Allen Albaugh of the Maryland State Police Department; Sgt. A.J. DeAndrea of the Arvada (Colo.) Police Department; Sr. Trooper Jacob Dickinson of the Louisiana State Police Department; Sgt. Richard Garcia of the Houston Police Department; Capt. J.E. "Chip" Harding of the Charlottesville ( Va.) Police Department; Officer Deon Joseph of the Los Angeles Police Department; Det. Sgt. Sy Ray of the Gilbert ( Ariz.) Police Department; Patrolman James Roese of the Middletown ( N.J.) Police Department; Det. Marcos Saenko of the Coventry (R.I.) Police Department; and from Polk County (Fla.) Sheriff's Office: Sgt. Andrew Williams, Dep. Michael Parker, Dep. Billy Osborne and Dep. David Clements.
This year's honorees are being recognized for achievements such as saving a victim from the menacing jaws of an alligator, arresting a notorious breeder and trainer of fighting dogs, bringing down a violent prison gang, and more.
The Police Service Awards were established by PARADE and the IACP in 1966 to focus attention on the dedicated men and women of our nation's police force.
They are given for specific acts of valor, consistent service above and beyond the call of duty, development of innovative programs and significant service to the community apart from police work.