Four members of the O’Fallon Police Department were honored on March 23 by Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Post 5077 & Auxiliary for their lifesaving efforts and dedicated community policing. At a ceremony held at the O’Fallon Justice Center, representatives Jim Mueller and Judy Northcutt recognized officers Jordan Wilmes, Robert Fincher, Jim Wagner and Adam Backowski, and presented them with plaques in appreciation of their service.
Officer Jordan Wilmes earned the “2020 Officer of the Year” award for consistently demonstrating the qualities of an exceptional officer, specifically pointing out his dependability, productivity and professionalism. Officer Wilmes was also recognized for his selfless heroism in rescuing a victim trapped inside a motor vehicle that had plunged into a dangerously flooded creek, and in saving the life of a woman undergoing a mental health crisis.
“His professionalism is impeccable, his productivity is persistent and his dependability is exceptional. All the characteristics and traits necessary for an Officer of the Year recipient,” noted his nominator, Lt. Kevin Barron.
The first “VFW Life Saving Award” was awarded to Officer Robert Fincher for his quick thinking during an emergency call involving a gunshot victim. Calling upon his Combat Casualty Care training and experience as a SWAT operator, Officer Fincher provided quick and appropriate care that, as noted by medics after the event, undoubtedly saved the life of the victim.
“The high standards displayed by Officer Fincher is the benchmark for other officers to strive for,” said Sgt. Joe Litzinger, who nominated Fincher for the award. “His mental and physical performance on high-stress calls is a testament to the daily preparation and commitment to this profession he consistently displays.”
Robert Fincher was also the recipient of a second “VFW Life Saving Award,” along with officers Jim Wagner and Adam Backowski for their actions during a mental health crisis. During a traffic stop consistent with a suspect under the influence of alcohol or drugs, these three officers used their Crisis Intervention Training (CIT) to realize the individual was instead suffering a mental health crisis and rendered appropriate aid that helped prevent a suicide attempt.
“Officers today know that CIT-related calls for service are increasing,” said Sgt. Litzinger. “On this occasion, all three of these officers did their best to provide care to a subject in crisis, and it is my belief their actions saved this person’s life.”