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SPD celebrates exemplary service

Superior Police Chief Charles LaGesse, left, shakes hands with Sgt. Adam Poskozim Wednesday afternoon after awarding Poskozim the Purple Heart during a call in 2013 during the Law Enforcement Ceremony at the Government Center in Superior. Poskozim was the first Superior police officer awarded the service ribbon. (Jed Carlson/

For the first time since the Superior Police Department started honoring extraordinary acts of police work in 2005, the department bestowed a Purple Heart on Wednesday. 

The honor is given to officers injured in the line of duty.

Ironically, perhaps, it’s the second time the first recipient of the Purple Heart service ribbon was injured in the line of duty.

Sgt. Adam Poskozim earned the service ribbon Wednesday after a suspect, trying to escape a warrant arrest, ran over his foot in mid-September. The award didn’t exist in 2003 when Poskozim sustained a shoulder injury when he was attacked by a suspect he was arresting while on foot patrol in North End.

“The vehicle drove over Poskozim’s left foot,” said Chief Deputy Matthew Markon said of the September incident at the storage facility on North 30th Street and Elmira Avenue.

Officer Sean Holmgren was attempting to coax the suspect out of a truck shortly after 3 a.m., after learning there was a warrant for his arrest. Poskozim arrived on the scene and both officers attempted to break windows to arrest Jeorge Angel Sales.

Sales, started the vehicle and drove off, running over the sergeant’s foot in the process.

Despite the injury, Poskozim got in his squad in an effort to find the suspect, according to police reports.

“Sgt. Poskozim’s left foot was essentially flattened, stretching the tendons,” Markon said. He said the sergeant was off work for a month before he was allowed to come back in a light-duty capacity. For the next three months, Poskozim was on light duty and was cleared only recently for full duty again, Markon said.

Sales was arrested several days later by investigators Jim Olson and Paul Winterscheidt; both received letters of commendation for their work to apprehend Sales.

“Today, we recognize just some of the exemplary work performed by our officers in 2013,” Police Chief Charles LaGesse said Wednesday. “In January of each year, we undertake the task of examining work completed in the previous year. We look at the efforts and accomplishments of our officers, and we’re going to tell you about some of it here today.”

The chief acknowledged not all of the exemplary police work done in the last year was recognized at the annual awards ceremony.

“It goes on every day,” LaGesse said. “It doesn’t always result in a document being created that gets reviewed at the end of the year.”

Still, many officers throughout the region were recognized for their efforts to keep the community safe.

Other awards included:

Life-saving Awards

Poskozim and Officer Todd Maas were recognized for their efforts to reach a 92-year-old woman through locked doors to check on her after she missed a hair appointment.. The woman had fallen two days earlier. She was transported to a Duluth hospital and is recovering.

Officer Marc LeTendre was recognized for administering chest compressions to a man who was unresponsive and not breathing. CPR resuscitated the man, who died eight days later.

Unit Meritorious Conduct

Lake Superior Drug, Gang and Violent Crimes Task Force.

Douglas County Drug Task Force.

Lake Superior Forensic Technology and Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Meritorious Conduct

Superior Police Sgt. Tom Champaigne, Superior Detective Michelle Lear, and Douglas County Sheriff Detective John Parenteau for work to arrest a registered sex offender accused of having sexual contact with a developmentally disabled child. The suspect is awaiting sentencing on four felonies.

Sgts. John Nowicki and John Kiel, and Officers Brad Esler and Gary Gothner for their initial work that revealed a shooting at Genesis Attachments in May was a homicide and help in the investigation that lead to the arrest of a suspect eight hours later.

Sgt. Derrick Hughes, Champaigne, Detectives Chris Moe, Jack Curphy, Kirk Hill, William Braman, Michael Jaszczak, Joe Krieg and Jeff Harriman, and evidence technicians Officers Mike Kendall and Gregory Swanson for their work on the investigation of the shooting at Genesis Attachments.

Sgt. William Lear for work to arrest a suspect accused of inappropriate sexual contact with women at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.

Braman and Officer Chris Woolery for their work that led to the arrest of a couple that used a Molotov cocktail to start a fire at the home of the woman’s ex-husband in an effort to get custody of her children.

Letters of  Commendation

Letters of Commendation were awarded to Superior Officers Bonnie Beste, Braman, Curphy, Esler, Nick Eastman, Jeff Felton, Gary Gothner, Hill, Holmgren, Adam Johnson, Krieg, Michelle Lear, LeTendre, Maas, Jon McKinnon, Moe, Nowicki, Eric Olson and Swanson, and Douglas County Sheriff Investigator Cory Knutson, for their efforts in a variety of investigations and incidents in 2013.

Fitness Award

Beste, Todd Carlson, Brian Davis, Holmgren, Chris Kirchoff and LaGesse were recognized for passing rigorous fitness tests required only of the department’s emergency response tactical team.

New officers

LaGesse also took the opportunity to introduce officers Mikayla LeRette, Griffith Coffman and Matthew Brown, who were hired almost a year ago but were not sworn in ceremonially.