The National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund (NLEOMF) has announced the selection of Sgt. Alan Jenkins of the Miami-Dade (Fla.) Police Department as its Officer of the Month for August 2006.
According to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety, 42,636 people died in motor vehicle crashes in 2004. That number would have been increased by two if not for the quick thinking and heroism of Sgt. Alan Jenkins. As he drove to work Christmas morning, he observed a Jeep Cherokee swerving erratically from lane to lane going approximately 45 miles per hour. He could see that the elderly male driver was unconscious, and that the female passenger was attempting to maintain control of the runaway vehicle from the front passenger's seat.
Realizing that a serious accident was imminent, Jenkins requested back-up and immediately activated his emergency equipment. The expressway was heavy with holiday travelers and Jenkins feared some would try to pass the SUV. In a desperate attempt to prevent a collision, he positioned his cruiser behind the automobile and drove from side to side and lane to lane to keep the other vehicles at bay. Unfortunately, the female passenger was no longer able to keep control and the SUV swerved toward the center wall of the Palmetto Expressway.
Convinced that it would crash and cause serious injury or death to the occupants, Jenkins knew that his only course of action was to force the SUV to stop. He pulled his cruiser alongside the SUV and was able to wedge his front passenger side tire beneath the SUV's front driver side tire. He drove toward the west retaining wall and managed to jam the SUV between the wall and his police car. After approximately 150 yards, the SUV finally came to a stop.
Jenkins tried to enter the SUV, but the driver's door was locked. He went to the passenger side of the SUV and climbed the retaining wall hoping to enter from the passenger side. The female passenger, who did not speak or understand English, was so hysterical she was unable to assist Jenkins in her own rescue. She was unable to turn the automobile off, switch gears, or unlock the doors. Suddenly, the SUV began to roll forward, dislodging itself from the police cruiser. Still on the retaining wall, Jenkins was desperate to stop the SUV and resorted to using hand gestures to instruct the passenger how to turn the engine off. Knowing that the driver needed immediate attention, he frantically pointed at the window switch until the woman rolled down the window.
Once inside, Jenkins made a preliminary assessment of the driver's vital signs. He was still unconscious, with shallow breathing and a weak pulse. At that time, Miami-Dade correctional officers Daniel Pena and Pedro Ferrer Colon approached and offered their assistance. Jenkins asked them to monitor the victim's vital signs while he retrieved an Automatic External Defibrillator (AED) from his vehicle.
After attaching the AED to the driver, Jenkins monitored the driver's vital signs until the arrival of fire rescue units. Officers Pena and Colon had been instrumental in maintaining control of the crowd that had gathered and for providing ready access to the medical team upon their arrival. For all concerned, it turned out to be a very Merry Christmas.
Due to the quick thinking of Sgt. Jenkins, no one was injured in a potentially deadly situation. It is clear that the lives of the driver and passenger of that vehicle were saved that day, as well as the many others who were traveling on the Palmetto Expressway. Jenkins became a local hero for his lifesaving efforts and was awarded the State of Florida Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Officer of the Year for 2005. Throughout his outstanding career, Jenkins has been awarded 42 commendations, the Miami-Dade Silver Medal of Valor, Bronze Medal of Valor, three lifesaving awards, and an Employee Excellence Award.
Lt. Robert Wilcox of the Miami-Dade (Fla.) PD states, "Sgt. Jenkins continues to demonstrate qualities consistent with a model, professional police officer. This has been acknowledged by his peers and subordinates and he continues to provide a positive role model for others to follow." Jenkins is married and has a Bachelor of Science degree in Governmental Administration from Christopher Newport College in Newport News, Va. He is a member of the Miami-Dade County Police Benevolent Association.
For more information about the NLEOMF and its officer of the month award, visit www.nleomf.org.