Three public safety professionals from the Vail Police Department and a manager of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center were among those recognized by the Eagle County Rotary Clubs of Eagle, Edwards and Vail and the Eagle County Public Safety Council at an awards dinner on Sept. 10. Nominees were recognized for outstanding service to their communities and for their contributions to their respective professions.
The Lifesaving Award was presented to Officer Craig Westering and Sgt. Christopher Botkins following an incident on Feb. 27 when the two were dispatched to a call of an intoxicated party lying in the roadway on an I-70 off-ramp. They found the intoxicated party and took him home to a local apartment complex in Vail. The intoxicated party led the officers to the seventh floor, and then ran from the officers. As he rounded a corner, he lost control and hit a railing. His weight carried him over the railing and the likelihood of a 60 foot fall to the courtyard below. Officer Westering grabbed the party’s left arm and seconds later Sgt. Botkins grabbed his right arm. The officers lost their grip as the party struggled and slipped out of his coat. He fell, but the way the officers controlled the fall caused him to hit the sixth floor landing instead of falling the full 60 feet to the courtyard below. Due to Officer Westering and Sgt. Botkins’ actions, this man made it safely home to his apartment, shaken, but uninjured.
Also receiving recognition was Rebecca Pacheco of the Vail Public Safety Communications Center. Pacheco received the Distinguished Service Award. This award is presented to public safety professionals in recognition of outstanding and distinguished service to the people of Eagle County. Pacheco has over 25 years of service with the Vail Public Safety Communications Center. She began her career as a dispatcher, became a supervisor, served as interim director and currently serves as supervisor/CAD manager. During her career, Pacheco has trained and mentored over 50 employees, including every current employee. Having performed all aspects of all job functions within the communications center, she is a valuable asset to the team in terms of experience and capability.
The recipient of the annual Leadership Award was presented to Police Chief Dwight Henninger. The award recognizes public safety leaders who advocate and accomplish significant advances in policies and programs that benefit the safety of the people of Eagle County. In this case, Henninger was honored for his role as chair of the Safety and Security Committee for the 2015 Alpine World Ski Championships. Working in cooperation with the Vail Valley Foundation and FIS, Henninger coordinated the public safety efforts of over 30 local, state, and federal public safety agencies, including providing situational awareness training by The Cell to over 2,000 volunteers and community members. The work by Chief Henninger, along with the work he inspired and compelled others to do, culminated in a successful, safe, international event that was lauded by all agencies involved.
The other award recipients included the Suicide Prevention Coalition of Eagle County, represented by Avon Deputy Chief Greg Daly and Court Clerk/Police Records Supervisor Erin Ivie of the Eagle Police Department, which received the Business Partnership Award, while Rochelle (Shelle) Walker from the Rock Creek Volunteer Fire Department received the First Responder of the Year Award.
Photo: (L to R) Vail Police Chief Dwight Henninger, Sgt. Christopher Botkins, Officer Craig Westering and Rebecca Pacheco, Vail Public Communications Center.