DPD Officer Honored With Award of Valor
For just the fourth time in the last 30 years, the Dalton Police Department honored an officer with the department’s Award of Valor on Tuesday morning at the monthly meeting of the Public Safety Commission. Officer Clinton J. Travis was presented the award by Chief Jason Parker in recognition of his actions in two separate cases over the past year in which he was confronted with split-second life or death decisions.
Chief Parker detailed both incidents in front of the five commissioners and an auditorium full of fellow officers and firefighters Tuesday morning.
The first instance happened on August 17, 2016 at about 5:00 am when Officer Travis, who was then entering his third year as a police officer, was investigating a suspicious vehicle in an area known from previous drug arrests. He did not know that the back seat passenger had a pistol on the floorboard between his feet. When Officer Travis addressed the car’s passengers, the suspect dropped a rolled-up dollar bill and reached down between his legs. As Officer Travis shined his light on the suspect’s hands, he saw the suspect picking up the 9mm pistol. Officer Travis drew his service weapon, pointed it at the suspect and convinced him to drop the pistol.
Chief Parker pointed out to the Public Safety Commission than the suspect’s behavior clearly threatened the officer’s life and that a high level of force, including deadly force, would have been justified in this situation.
“Officer Travis’s quick action and his calm approach clearly went above and beyond the call of duty,” Chief Parker noted Tuesday morning.
The suspect, 28 year old Tony Landaverde of Dalton, was arrested and charged with possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime as well as felony possession of marijuana and possession with intent to distribute.
The second instance, and the incident for which Officer Travis’ supervisor nominated him for the honor, happened on the evening of March 5th earlier this year. Officer Travis was dispatched with other officers to a residence in response to a report of a disturbance between a father and son. Officers were told by dispatchers that the son had pointed a gun at his father. As officers arrived, they heard a gunshot from inside the house. Officer Travis ran quickly to the open front door and looked inside to see two people struggling over a pistol. Travis later discovered it was the father and son who lived at the residence. The father then yelled “help me” to Officer Travis. Pointing his patrol rifle with his right hand, Officer Travis quickly closed the gap between them and took the pistol away from them. Officer Travis and the other officers then immediately took custody of the scene. During a later interview with the father, Officer Travis learned a shot had been fired as the two struggled over a handgun, but nobody was hurt. The son, Brian McReynolds Nunez, 21, of Dalton was arrested and charged with aggravated assault.
“Once again, Officer Travis was faced with a life or death situation that could have ended with multiple serious injuries or deaths, including his and other officers, and a high level of force was justified in this situation,” Chief Parker told the commission. “His decision to quickly close the gap and take immediate action was the factor that prevented a tragic end to this situation and saved lives on that day.”
In nominating Officer Travis for the Award of Valor, Lieutenant Shaun Scott wrote, “I believe Officer Travis' actions demonstrate heroism when faced with a great risk of imminent hazard to himself and others, and he should be considered for this commendation.”
“I am amazed at the judgment and discretion our officers display in these split-second decisions,” said Chief Parker. “I am proud of Officer Travis, his actions are more like those of a highly seasoned officer.”
Firefighter Promoted In Preventions Division
Also at Tuesday morning’s meeting, Dalton Fire Chief Todd Pangle presented Firefighter Matt Daniel for promotion to the rank of Preventions Division Coordinator. Daniel will replace retiring Captain Jeff Dugger next year in the Preventions Division and the promotion is timed to give Daniel time to learn his new position.
Matt Daniel joined the Dalton Fire Department in January 2003 and progressed to the rank of Firefighter 3. In that role, Daniel had the opportunity to supervise personnel and become a respected leader in the department.
Daniel’s promotion was approved by a unanimous 5-0 vote of the Public Safety Commission.
DFD Smoke Divers Honored
Chief Pangle also presented three firefighters to the Public Safety Commission in recognition of their recent completion of the prestigious Georgia Smoke Divers training program. Firefighters Justin Cole, Justin Salter, and Caleb Krout all earned certification as Smoke Divers.
The class was conducted November 12th-17th and was hosted at the City of Dalton Fire Department’s training center on Abutment Road. The course is a grueling six-day, 60 hour program designed for the experienced firefighter who desires realistic training in self-survival, firefighter rescue, advanced search & rescue, thermal imaging, emergency procedures, teamwork, discipline, team leadership, situational awareness and decision making as well as how to function within the elements of the Incident Command System.
The program condenses and replicates the extreme demands that may be placed on firefighters at any incident. Emphasis is placed on the day-to-day challenges firefighters face at structure fires, multiple-alarm fires, and multiple fires within a single shift. These same principles can be applied to the performance of duties at natural disasters, catastrophic events, and acts of terrorism. The course is a physically demanding and mentally challenging program. Its design allows each candidate to understand and manage their physical and mental limitations under safe but stressful realistic conditions. Coupled with constant situational awareness drills and forced decision making, the candidate gains condensed experience and therefore is able to operate more efficiently and safely at incidents. The program has a long history of improving the lives and careers of Georgia firefighters, as well as firefighters throughout the nation, through the emergence of servant leadership principles. The course is continually updated to stay on the leading edge of firefighting technology and firefighter safety while the core mission remains the same as was developed in 1978.
The Dalton Public Safety Commission is comprised of Chairman William B. Weaver, Carlos Calderin, Terry Mathis, Keith Whitworth, and Kenneth E. Willis.