West Point Town Council recognizes actions of three police officers

WEST POINT — Town Council recently recognized three West Point Police Department (WPPD) officers who went above and beyond the call of duty.

Master Police Officer Eric Mitchell, Master Police Officer Carlos Moran and Officer Richard Morris attended the recognition on June 24 in their honor.

Mitchell was the first to respond to a call regarding a male experiencing cardiac arrest outside of the local Hardee's. Mitchell said he arrived on the scene to find the man lying on his back in between two vehicles.

While the man initially had a slight pulse, Mitchell said the pulse stopped just seconds later. He performed CPR and was able to resuscitate him. Individuals from the West Point Volunteer Fire and Rescue Squad, whom Mitchel commended, arrived and transported him to the hospital.

"I don't feel like any kind of hero by any means," Mitchell said. "It's part of our job."

“What really hurt me was that it was Easter weekend, and it gave you even more motivation to do something for this guy because he was there with family and you didn’t want to let this guy down,” recalled Moran.

Notably, Moran had CPR training with the WPPD several days before the incident.

“It was great to have that training fresh in mind, and I think that helped us react quicker,” he added.

Moran said the recognition at the Town Council meeting “felt really good” because it was a reminder that the man had survived after going into cardiac arrest.

“We were getting this [recognition] for him,” Moran said.

On the scene, Morris said, "I dealt more with the family of the victim while Officer Mitchell and Officer Moran were attending to the victim in the tight space that they were in. "We worked as a team to try and handle all aspects of the situation."

Morris said the three officers work as a team often. Morris has been with the department for about a year, while Mitchell and Moran have served as WPPD officers for nine and seven years, respectively.

Regarding the officers' performance, WPPD Police Chief Bobby Mawyer said, "We're very proud of the guys for taking that on. "It kind of falls within the realm of public safety but not exactly law enforcement, so we felt being that their quick response and actions helped save a man's life … that was noteworthy."

Mawyer added, "I think the thing that really makes this particular incident stand out from the rest is the fact that they were actually able to bring this gentleman back from no pulse and not breathing to the point where he made it to the hospital and he was alive. That just doesn't happen that often."

Town Council also honored Morris individually for his cautious actions in assisting a woman reportedly contemplating suicide on the Eltham Bridge recently.

According to Mawyer, Morris received a call about a woman on the bridge from a citizen and parked approximately 100 feet away from the scene. She was allegedly sitting on the rail of the bridge, rocking back and forth.

"[Morris] approached her, talked to her, established some dialogue, and when an opportunity presented itself, he reached her and grabbed her and brought her back to the deck," Mawyer said.

Mawyer said Morris then brought the woman back to the WPPD, which provided her with mental health resources to "help her hopefully work through the issues she was dealing with."

While Mawyer said the WPPD provides individuals with counseling resources when needed, "the thing that makes this one stand out is that this person had already taken the steps to put themselves in the place and in the situation."

"The process was identifying that the woman needed help and then talking with the victim and attempting to avert any type of disaster by getting her out of a dangerous situation and into a safer situation," Morris explained.

Morris noted that police officers are "trained to handle difficult situations where other people's ability to make rational decisions is impaired."

"Our job is to respond to the needs of the community, and this particular person was in need of assistance," added Morris. "So it was as important as any other call we would take when a person in the community is in need of our assistance."

Mawyer noted that the WPPD is the smallest accredited police department in the Commonwealth of Virginia.

"We're conducting our business in the same manner, the same degree as the larger agencies are," said Mawyer.

In wake of the recognitions, Mawyer said it is important for the WPPD to "continue to do what it is that we do."

What the WPPD does, Mawyer explained, is "respond to calls, look for ways to be proactive, and when situations … come about, regardless of what they are, where they are, we are prepared to address those calls and challenges as they are presented."

Lundberg can be reached by phone at 804-885-0042.