Officer Thomas Lekas, NPD Employee of the Year
Newport Police Chief Mark Miranda, with the City Council looking on, awarded several officers with professional awards Monday evening. Officer Thomas Lekas was named Police Employee of the Year for his consistent excellent public relations skills along with his professional, knowledgeable, respectful and always helpful demeanor. Officer Lekas is part of the police vehicle maintenance team.
Officer Keith Garrett, Distinguished Service Award
Chief Miranda awarded Officer Keith Garrett a Distinguished Service Award. Officer Garrett, on the evening of January 23rd, was part of a pursuit team trying to catch David Durham who had just earlier shot Lincoln City Police Office Steven Dodds in south Lincoln City. Although Garrett and other officers were being shot at during the pursuit, they stuck with the chase. Officer Garrett provided tactical support as other officers’ vehicles sustained damage from gunfire. When a spike strip just north of Waldport stopped Durham’s SUV, from which he fled, Officer Garrett maintained his composure and took up a tactical position with other officers so that Durham could not return to his vehicle for more guns or ammunition.
Officer Kraig Mitchell, Distinguished Service Award
Officer Kraig Mitchell was also awarded a Distringuished Service Award for his superior performance in pursuit of David Durham that fateful night in January. Officer Mitchell’s vehicle sustained bullet damage from shots being fired by Durham as he sped south on 101 south of Newport. He momentarily pulled over to assess the bullet damage, considered it minor, and was soon back in the chase. After road spikes forced Durham from his vehicle, Officer Mitchell maintained surveillance from the span of the Waldport Bridge to stop northbound traffic on 101 from entering a dangerously volatile area and to help ensure Durham could not backtrack around to his vehicle in an attempt to acquire more guns and bullets.
Sergeant Tony Garbarino, Distinguished Service Award
Sergeant Tony Garbarino was also on duty the night Durham gunned down Officer Steven Dodds. Sergeant Garbarino was another officer who pulled in behind Durham as other officers were forced to check bullet damage to their vehicles, and then resume the chase. Sergeants Garbarino’s patrol car was also hit by gunfire. While dodging bullets Sergeant Garbarino was on his police radio to a Lincoln County Sheriff’s Deputy north of Waldport who was laying road spikes across 101 just north of the Waldport Bridge, a tactic that stopped the pursuit quickly. Sergeant Garbarino also took up a tactical position near Durham’s abandoned vehicle to guard against Durham returning to it for more firepower although he had what was believed to be one of the deadliest killing devices in the world, an AK-47 Semi-automatic.
Chief Miranda remarked that Sergeant Garbarino and the other officers that evening displayed profound courage at great personal risk for life and safety and that their diligence, perseverance and devotion to duty are most heartily commended and are in keeping with the highest professional traditions of the Newport Police Department.
All officers received a standing ovation from the audience and from the Newport City Council.
Meanwhile Lincoln City Police Officer Steven Dodds, who is a Newport resident, continues to make what many consider a miraculous recovery from multiple wounds inflicted by David Durham whom Officer Dodds had pulled over for a traffic stop. Durham has completely dropped off the face of the earth as far as his bank accounts, family and friends are concerned. They say no one has heard from him leading authorities to speculate that he escaped the area and is lying extremely low in a distant location or he drowned that night trying to cross the mouth of an extremely cold Alsea River during a lowering tide. Some believe his heavy weapons pulled him under and his body was swept out to sea.
Sergeant Tod Sarazin, who was unable to attend the award ceremony, was given the Employee of the Quarter Award for his professional service to the department and to the citizens of Newport.