Jeffrey D. Collins and John G. Lehman, Jefferson City Police Department

On January 3, 2021, Officers Collins (now retired) and Lehman responded to a report of a man armed with a large knife threatening customers at a shopping center. After Officer Collins arrived at the scene, followed by Officer Lehman, the two officers initiated contact with the suspect, a 59-year-old man who was extremely agitated. Officer Collins attempted to calm the man, telling him the officers were there to help him. The man was slapping his thigh with the large knife and refused to drop it. Officer Collins worked to engage the man in conversation as he drew his duty handgun and as Officer Lehman moved into a tactical position where he could observe the knife in the man’s right hand. Both officers continued their calls for him to drop the knife. He refused and his agitation grew. He then suddenly raised the knife above his head with the blade pointed at Officer Collins and rushed toward Collins. Fearing for his life, Collins discharged his duty weapon. Fearing for the safety of Officer Collins, Officer Lehman also discharged his duty weapon. The officers secured the knife, which was still in the subject’s hand, and initiated lifesaving measures but the subject died. Officers Collins and Lehman responded to a volatile situation in which a number of people were endangered. They attempted to end the situation nonviolently but were forced to act when Officer Collins' life was at risk.

Timothy L. Shipp, Eureka Police Department

At about 3:15 a.m. on January 26, 2021, while working secondary employment, Officer Shipp heard radio traffic about a house fire. He immediately drove to the location, arriving before the Eureka Fire Department. The front of the house was fully engulfed in flames. He found a neighbor at the back of the house, Justin M. Flynn, who told him a disabled woman was still inside. Mr. Flynn had made two attempts to locate the woman but had been thwarted by the smoke and darkness. Officer Shipp and Mr. Flynn entered the house using the rear entrance. Without breathing apparatus, the dense smoke made it impossible to see and very difficult to breathe. With Officer Shipp in the lead, the men crawled along the floor, with Officer Shipp calling out to the woman. Finally, the woman responded and Officer Shipp followed her voice to find her on the floor of a distant room. Officer Shipp then began dragging the victim along the floor; Mr. Flynn then assisted, and they were able to move her to safety outside. Officer Shipp acted without regard for his own safety in order to save the woman trapped inside her burning home. Timothy L. Shipp has been promoted to corporal.

Zim Schwartze, Missouri Capitol Police

On February 10, 2021, while off duty, Missouri Capitol Police Chief Schwartze traveled to Fayette, Missouri, for an appointment. While driving home, she came upon a house fire on Route W in Howard County. Chief Schwartze pulled into the driveway, where a man in his 60s had already stopped. He said he heard dogs barking inside the house and was going to call 911. Chief Schwartze ran to the back of the house, observing the attached garage was also on fire. She ran into the burning house and encountered many dogs. She called out to see if anyone was in the house. There was no response. Smoke was rolling across the first floor ceiling as she went room-to-room, calling out to anyone in the house. In the kitchen a man appeared; he said he had been sleeping in the basement and heard Schwartze’s calls. The chief guided the man outside and placed five dogs in a vehicle so they would be out of the way when firefighters arrived. As she returned to the front of the residence, she saw that the man she had originally encountered outside had collapsed and was face down in the driveway. He was not breathing. She immediately called 911 and began chest compressions. Howard County sheriff’s deputies and firefighters began arriving. They took over the effort to revive the man, who had suffered a heart attack. Chief Schwartze now observed debris from the house falling on vehicles, one of which was on fire. She moved the dogs from one of these vehicles into her personal car. Unfortunately, the man who suffered the heart attack did not survive. While off duty and far from her Missouri Capitol Police jurisdiction, Chief Schwartze immediately sprang into action when she observed a fire, acting heroically to protect people, pets and property.

William J. Knittel Jr. and Michael E. Werges, Eureka Police Department

On February 18, 2021, Sgt. Knittel and Lt. Werges were dispatched to a residence after a caller reported a man flourishing a handgun at a woman inside the residence. Upon arrival, Sgt. Knittel made contact with a woman at the front door. She told him the man was holding the handgun to his head and there were children inside. As Lt. Werges arrived, a gunshot was then heard inside the house. The two officers immediately entered the home to search for the children. Lt. Werges made verbal contact with the armed man, who was in another room, as Sgt. Knittel searched for, located, and carried the children out of the home. A second shot was now heard from the room the gunman was occupying, and the woman ran out of the room. The gunman then barricaded himself in the room. After several hours of negotiations, the gunman surrendered. Without regard for their own wellbeing, Lt. Werges and Sgt. Knittel rushed into a residence occupied by a violent gunman, rescued two children, and helped secure the safe release of a woman.

Jeffrey A. Hilke, Cole County Sheriff’s Office

On April 21, 2021, Reserve Deputy Sheriff Hilke was working in his civilian position as a funeral director at an Eldon mortuary, where a family was preparing for a memorial service. The ex-husband of one of the immediate family members entered the mortuary and confronted his ex-wife. After arguing, the man attempted to pull the woman into another room. When she resisted, he pulled a handgun from his coat. Deputy Hilke heard the woman scream, and he and another man rushed the gunman to attempt to take control of the gun. As they fought the gunman, the gun’s magazine was ejected, but as the struggle continued the bullet in the chamber discharged and narrowly missed striking one of the people in the mortuary. Deputy Hilke continued to fight the gunman who was now attempting to pull a second magazine from a coat pocket. Once Eldon Police arrived on the scene, they assisted by taking control of the gunman and securing his weapon. While working his civilian job, Reserve Deputy Hilke leapt into action, sacrificing his own safety to prevent what could have been a deadly domestic violence attack.

Dawson M. Payne and John G. Lehman, Jefferson City Police Department

On June 7, 2021, Police Officer Trainee Payne was patrolling along Truman Boulevard with Field Training Officer Lehman. Officers Payne and Lehman observed a vehicle with an expired registration and initiated a traffic stop. The driver stopped in the middle of a heavily traveled six lane street and because of the traffic pattern, Officer Payne approached the vehicle from the passenger side, with Officer Lehman following a few steps behind. As Payne got close to the front passenger door, he observed the driver leaning across the passenger seat with one hand on the trigger guard and the other on the barrel of a .22 caliber rifle. The driver next raised the rifle and pushed its muzzle toward the officer’s face. Officer Payne ducked down and moved away from the vehicle, yelling, “Gun, gun, gun.” He circled around to the driver side of the vehicle as Officer Lehman maintained focus on the passenger side. Each officer drew his service weapon and gave multiple commands to the gunman to place his hands out the window. Officer Lehman observed the driver raise the rifle and extend the barrel out of the passenger window. Fearing for his life and the life of Officer Payne, Officer Lehman began firing his duty weapon through the rear windshield. Officer Payne also observed the driver raising the gun and also fired his duty weapon. Once the driver stopped moving the officers approached the vehicle to ensure there were no passengers and determine whether the driver was still alive. He was pronounced dead at the scene. It was later determined that he had discharged the rifle during the confrontation. Working in coordination, Field Training Officer Lehman and Officer Payne ended an armed threat to themselves and the community.

Kurt A. Schmutzler and Bradley E. Maudlin, Missouri State Highway Patrol

Late on the night of June 24, 2021, Sgt. Schmutzler was notified heavy rain had led to flash flooding in Amazonia, Mo., and the need for multiple rescues and evacuations. Sgt. Schmutzler immediately requested assistance from Cpl. Maudlin, a Patrol road officer with swift water rescue training. Cpl. Maudlin was off duty but quickly responded. Sgt. Schmutzler, a Marine Operations officer, deployed with an inflatable rescue boat. The pair first responded to a house with two men inside. It was surrounded by three to four feet of swift-moving floodwater. The officers decided the safest approach was to use pike poles to find a path through 80 yards of water to the residence and then carefully walked the two men out to safety. They next went to a house with five people trapped inside; two were elderly, and there was a young child. Because of the swirling waters and numerous obstacles in the water, they again opted not to utilize the boat. Carrying additional life-jackets, they made their way to the residence on foot, which quickly made clear it was too hazardous to attempt to walk out the trapped family. Sgt. Schmutzler and Cpl. Maudlin decided to utilize a 12-foot flat bottom boat they noticed near the house. They first put life jackets on a mother and her young child, loaded them into the boat and carefully walked the boat to safety through swift water that was up to four feet deep. The water had become deeper and more dangerous by the time they returned and attempted to move an elderly woman and a man in his 20s, neither of whom could swim. The swift current was sweeping the officers off their feet; waves rocked the boat, almost ejecting the two people inside. Cpl. Maudlin, controlling the back of the boat, quickly repositioned himself and pushed up on the left side of the boat, preventing it from capsizing. Sgt. Schmutzler, who is a swift water rescue instructor in the Patrol’s Marine Operations Division, said if not for Cpl. Maudlin’s quick reaction, the boat would have capsized and tossed both passengers into the water. Over the course of more than eight hours, Sgt. Schmutzler and Cpl. Maudlin rescued or evacuated a total of 27 people in Andrew and DeKalb counties.

Colton J. Beck, Missouri State Highway Patrol

On the night of December 10, 2021, Trooper Beck attempted to conduct a traffic stop after observing a vehicle run a red light in Springfield. The driver failed to stop and Trooper Beck began a pursuit. At a dead end, the driver drove off the road and down an embankment, where his vehicle became disabled. At the dead end, Trooper Beck exited his vehicle and approached the driver side of the disabled vehicle on foot. The suspect continued to push the accelerator in an attempt to flee. The driver was obscured because of the low light conditions and dark window tinting. Trooper Beck gave clear commands for the suspect to exit the vehicle; as he approached the driver door, the suspect fired a single shot from a shotgun through the window. Trooper Beck was struck in the face, neck, and upper torso. Although seriously wounded, Trooper Beck returned fire. He then moved to a tactical position and continued to exchange fire with the suspect. The gunman then fled on foot. When additional officers arrived, Trooper Beck, despite his injuries, remained calm and provided a description of the gunman, his direction of flight, and conveyed the continuing threat posed by the gunman, information that assisted in the capture of the suspect early the next morning.

*Colton J. Beck was also awarded the red, White and Blue Heart.