Wisconsin State Patrol presents awards for heroism, lifesaving actions and exceptional service
Special tributes given to Trooper Trevor Casper and other fallen officers
Governor Scott Walker today presented awards during a ceremony in Madison to members of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation Division of State Patrol for their courageous actions and exemplary service.
The State Patrol’s two highest awards were presented to the family of Trooper Trevor Casper, who died heroically in an exchange of gunfire with a robbery and murder suspect in March in Fond du Lac.
In addition to the family of Trooper Casper, posthumous Purple Heart awards were presented to the families of three troopers who died in the line of duty before the award was created.
Special recognition also was given to agencies and organizations that assisted the State Patrol after the death of Trooper Casper.
“With the death of Trooper Trevor Casper, we were reminded of the inherent dangers of our profession,” said State Patrol Superintendent Stephen Fitzgerald. “Trooper Casper and all law enforcement officers who have given their lives to serve and protect others may no longer be with us physically but they will always be with us in spirit. Therefore, it is our duty to ensure they are not forgotten and their heroic deeds are forever acknowledged. Now and for years to come, we will find inspiration in their courage, sacrifice and selfless devotion to duty.”
The following individuals and agencies were honored with awards:
Trooper Trevor J. Casper of Kiel (posthumous Medal of Valor and Purple Heart)—While on patrol in Fond du Lac County on March 24, 2015, Trooper Trevor Casper observed a vehicle driven by the suspect in an armed robbery and subsequent murder of a local citizen. As he followed the vehicle and called for assistance, Trooper Casper was ambushed by the suspect. In an exchange of gunfire, Trooper Casper was shot multiple times but continued to return fire thereby killing the suspect. Succumbing to fatal wounds, Trooper Casper valiantly sacrificed his own life to protect his fellow citizens. For exceptional heroism, Trooper Casper was awarded the Medal of Valor and the Purple Heart.
Trooper Clarissa Justmann of Fond du Lac, Sergeant Andrew Hyer of Madison, and Captain Anthony Burrell of Milwaukee (Medal of Valor)—Trooper Clarissa Justmann, Trooper Andrew Hyer (recently promoted to sergeant) and Captain Anthony Burrell responded to assist Trooper Trevor Casper while he was engaged in a gunfight with an armed robbery and murder suspect on March 24, 2015 in Fond du Lac. Arriving on scene at the final moments of the shooting incident, they courageously provided aid to the wounded trooper while still under the threat of possible gunfire from the suspect. For their brave actions while facing grave danger and selfless devotion to their fellow officer, each was awarded the Medal of Valor.
Trooper Donald C. Pederson of Green Lake (posthumous Purple Heart)—Trooper Donald Pederson was shot and killed in the line of duty while on patrol in Green Lake County by a motorist he had stopped and cited earlier in the evening of August 26, 1972. For making the ultimate sacrifice in fulfilling his law enforcement duties, he was awarded the Purple Heart.
Trooper Gary G. Powless of Black River Falls (posthumous Purple Heart)—While on patrol in Monroe County, Trooper Gary G. Powless was struck and killed by an out-of-control semi on May 18, 1980. For making the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty, he was awarded the Purple Heart.
Trooper Deborah M. McMenamin of Bloomer (posthumous Purple Heart)—Trooper Deborah McMenamin died after being hit by a passing vehicle while she was conducting a traffic stop in Eau Claire County on October 26, 1989. For sacrificing her life in performance of her duties, she was awarded the Purple Heart.
Trooper Nicholas D. Erickson of Neenah (Meritorious Service)—While on patrol in Winnebago County, Trooper Nicholas Erickson responded to a 911 call of an active shooter on the Trestle Trail Bridge in Menasha on May 3, 2015. Upon arriving at the scene, he observed a wounded victim. Though unaware of the location and status of the shooter, he provided security and medical attention to the gunshot victim while exposed to potential danger. For his courage and dedication to duty, Trooper Erickson received a Meritorious Service Award.
Trooper Daniel L. Hester of Appleton (Meritorious Service)—In response to a 911 call of an active shooter on the Trestle Trail Bridge in Menasha on May 3, 2015, Trooper Daniel Hester assumed a tactical position at the scene. He provided security for the other responders attending to the gunshot victims until the threat was resolved. For his courageous and effective actions, Trooper Hester received a Meritorious Service Award.
Law Enforcement Dispatcher Jessica L. Swinford of Madison (Commendable Service)—While on duty at the communications center at the State Patrol DeForest Post, Law Enforcement Dispatcher (LED) Jessica Swinford handled a call from a suicidal and possibly homicidal subject in Richland County on December 24, 2014. She contacted the Richland County Sheriff’s Department while continuing to talk to the subject for more than 30 minutes. Her ability to calm the subject allowed a deputy sufficient time to reach the residence and intervene successfully. For her composed and compassionate actions that helped prevent a tragedy, LED Swinford received a Commendable Service Award.
Sergeant Steven M. Tape of Eleva (Commendable Service)—Sergeant Steven Tape, while serving as a pilot in the Air Support Unit from 2005 to 2015, logged more than 1,000 flight hours. His missions included searches for missing persons and fugitives in remote areas and aerial traffic safety enforcement to prevent crashes. He also assisted federal, state and local law enforcement agencies by identifying the locations of marijuana grow operations. For his dedicated service, Sergeant Tape received a Commendable Service Award.
Law Enforcement Dispatcher (LED) Colleen M. Keough of Oshkosh, LED Julie A. Schneider of Fond du Lac, and LED Andrew K. Thone of Fond du Lac (Commendable Service)—While on duty at the communications center at the State Patrol Fond du Lac Post, the three law enforcement dispatchers received reports of a critical incident that began with a bank robbery and subsequent murder in Marinette County on March 24, 2015. They relayed FBI information that the suspect was in Fond du Lac County. When Trooper Trevor Casper made contact with the suspect, the dispatchers used radio contact and a traffic camera to monitor movements of the trooper and suspect. They expertly coordinated with the Fond du Lac Sheriff’s Office and Fond du Lac Police Department to request that all officers respond to the scene where Trooper Casper and the suspect subsequently exchanged fatal gunfire. For their professionalism and teamwork during an extremely stressful and tragic event, LED Colleen Keough, LED Julie Schneider and LED Andrew Thone received the Commendable Service Award.
Trooper Anthony J. Borostowski of Tomah and Trooper Steven A. Frantal of Wisconsin Dells (Lifesaving Award)—Troopers Anthony Borostowski and Steven Frantal responded to a 911 call regarding a male subject who was not breathing and had no pulse at a residence in New Lisbon on January 28, 2015. They were the first to arrive at the residence and began two-person CPR on the subject. They continued CPR until a pulse was restored and the subject began breathing on his own. The subject was then transported to a local hospital. For their effective and professional response that saved a man’s life, Troopers Borostowski and Frantal received a Lifesaving Award.
Trooper John W. Schick of Baraboo (Lifesaving Award)—While patrolling in Sauk County on May 22, 2015, Trooper John Schick was advised that a motorist on the interstate was experiencing a medical emergency. He responded and observed a pickup in the median. A subject near the vehicle had no pulse and was not breathing. Along with an officer from the Sauk County Sheriff’s Department, Trooper Schick used his lifesaving training by administering CPR and employing an automated external defibrillator (AED). The subject’s pulse returned by the time paramedics arrived and transported him to a hospital. Trooper Schick not only helped save the man’s life, he also showed tremendous concern for the victim’s family at the hospital. For his compassionate response and expertise under stressful conditions, Trooper Schick received a Lifesaving Award.
State Patrol Honor Guard (Unit Citation)—The Wisconsin State Patrol Honor Guard during 2014 and 2015 distinguished itself by representing the agency and the state of Wisconsin at 74 events around the nation including the National Law Enforcement Memorial ceremony in Washington, D.C., the National Governors’ Association Conference, the National Troopers Conference, and the State Patrol 75th Anniversary Banquet. In addition, the Honor Guard was an integral part of many services and ceremonies honoring fallen law enforcement officers. The following Honor Guard members were awarded the Unit Citation: Trooper Lynn Coulson of Durand, Trooper Kelly Lynch of Sullivan, Trooper Michael Larsen of Sparta, Sergeant Jason Holtz of Tomah, Sergeant Jeramy Foster of Tomah, Trooper Richard Torrez of Cambridge, Trooper David Hanson of Oak Creek, Trooper Edward Schofield of Fond du Lac, Trooper Jamie Kahkola of Green Bay, Sergeant Luke Kraemer of Madison, Sergeant Bryan Wrycha of Tomahawk, Trooper Kristin Suthers of Tomahawk, Inspector Gary Koski of Park Falls, Inspector Greg Venne of Eau Claire, and Sergeant Robert Hartson of Merrill.
At this year’s ceremony, the following agencies and organizations that provided assistance to the State Patrol in response to the death of Trooper Casper were honored: Dodge County Sheriff’s Department, Fond du Lac County Sheriff’s Department, Fond du Lac Communications and Emergency Management, Fond du Lac County District Attorney’s Office, Fond du Lac Fire and Rescue, Fond du Lac Police Department, Kiel Area School District, Kiel Police Department, Law Enforcement Death Response Team, the Wisconsin Honor Guard Association, Wisconsin Chapter of Concerns of Police Survivors, Wisconsin Department of Justice, Wisconsin Troopers’ Association, and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
Digital photos of the award recipients who attended the ceremony will be available for online download beginning Monday afternoon after 5 p.m., September 28. Visit the WisDOT website photo gallery here: http://wisconsindot.gov/Pages/
For more information, contact:
State Patrol Colonel Brian Rahn, Wisconsin DOT