For single-handedly rescuing multiple children from a house fire, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund has selected Officer Timothy Bowen of the San Antonio (TX) Police Department as the recipient of its Officer of the Month Award for December 2016.
In the morning of July 18, 2016, a fire broke out in an apartment building on the north side of San Antonio, Texas. Officer Bowen was the first to arrive on the scene and found the front of the building and stairways engulfed in flames.
As he walked to the back of the building, he heard the screams of children coming from an apartment. When he responded to the screams, a panicked young girl appeared in a second-story window. Three other children soon joined her, all screaming in fear.
"I started talking to them, trying to calm them down," Officer Bowen said. "And it took a couple of minutes, but they were good enough where they listened to me. I got them calmed."
Officer Bowen tried to convince the children to jump from the window and into his arms since the fire department had not yet arrived and there was no other option to reach them. One by one, the children jumped out of the building as Officer Bowen caught them.
The youngest child could not be convinced to jump from the window and instead ran back inside the apartment.
"I tried to talk to the little boy, but he never would come back to the window," he said. "The smoke is just rolling out of the apartment, and not being able to hear him or see him, that was tough."
When the fire department arrived soon after, Officer Bowen informed them of the child and they were able to access the apartment with their ladder, rescuing the young boy. The San Antonio Fire Department later tweeted a photo of Bowen with the children, calling him a "hero."
"After 28 years [as an officer], I would've never dreamed of [winning this award]," Officer Bowen said. "To me, I was just doing my job. It's a great ending to a career."
"Rarely during an officer's career will he or she encounter a situation that takes them beyond the call of duty," said San Antonio Chief of Police William McManus. "Officer Bowen's experience and wisdom gained through the years was displayed, in addition to his love and selfless desire to his calling as a peace officer, when he saved children from the burning building."
"These four children could've been seriously injured or killed in the fire had it not been for Officer Bowen's quick actions and determination to save them," Memorial Fund President and CEO Craig W. Floyd said. "The people of San Antonio are safer knowing there are officers like Timothy Bowen on the force. His act earns him the December 2016 Officer of the Month Award."
Located in the nation's capital, the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring the service and sacrifice of America's law enforcement officers. The Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Award Program began in 1996 and recognizes federal, state, and local officers who distinguish themselves through exemplary law enforcement service and devotion to duty.
Officer Bowen, along with the other Officer of the Month Award recipients for 2016, will be honored during National Police Week at a special awards ceremony in Washington, DC, in May 2017.
For more information about the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund's Officer of the Month Award, visit www.LawMemorial.org/OTM.