RCMP Commissioner Presents Commendation Awards in Edmonton

RCMP Commissioner Presents Commendation Awards in Edmonton

Edmonton, Alta. – Today, at a private ceremony at “K” Division RCMP Headquarters in Edmonton, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson presented 12 commendation awards.

Deputy Commissioner Marianne Ryan, Commanding Officer of the RCMP in Alberta, was also in attendance at the ceremony celebrating recipients. Commissioner Paulson will be awarding the Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery and the Commissioner’s Commendation forOutstanding Service. The Commissioner’s Commendation for Bravery recognizes courage in the face of dangerous circumstances beyond those commonly encountered in routine police work and which pose an imminent threat of personal injury or death. The Commissioner’s Commendation for Outstanding Service recognizes an individual’s actions that were exceptionally innovative, unique and far beyond that which would be expected from an experienced person doing the same task. The names of today’s recipients and the circumstances that resulted in their awards are provided below.

Constable (former) Tapatha Curnew and Constable Gordon Marshall

On Mar. 16, 2011, RCMP constables Curnew and Marshall, accompanied by two other RCMP officers, responded to a report of gunshots fired at apartment building in Fort McMurray, Alta. When the four officers entered the building, the two constables encountered a man with a handgun, who shot at them three times. Cst. Marshall narrowly escaped injury when one of the bullets hit his portable radio. Cst. Curnew was shot and sustained a life-threatening injury. Both constables returned fire, fatally wounding their assailant.

Ms. Curnew has recovered from her injuries, and has since left the RCMP. Cst. Marshall is now posted to Stony Plain RCMP Detachment.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson presents to Cst. Gordon Marshall
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson presents to Cst. Gordon Marshall

Constable Clifford Leavitt, Constable Adam Palmer and Constable Douglas Philip

On Mar. 19, 2011, RCMP constables Leavitt, Palmer and Philip risked their lives to apprehend a heavily armed, escaped convict near Sexsmith, Alta. After setting up a road block, the officers maintained their position during a two-hour standoff, which ended when the heavily-armed suspect drove at them, firing repeatedly. The officers returned fire, eventually wounding the fugitive, who was then arrested. Fortunately, only one constable suffered minor injury as a result of this event. The fugitive was returned to prison where he is now serving a lengthy prison sentence. 

Cst. Clifford Leavitt is now posted to Spirit River RCMP Detachment.

Cpl. Adam Palmer is now posted to Canmore RCMP Detachment.
Cst. Douglas Philip is now posted to Red Deer RCMP Detachment.

Constable Krysta Jestings

On Dec. 14, 2009, RCMP Cst. Krysta Jestings risked her life in rescuing a woman who had fallen through river ice 125 metres from shore near God’s Lake Narrows, Man. When the rescue attempts of the four attending RCMP officers and the local fire department proved unsuccessful, Cst. Jestings donned a wet suit and set out in a prone position onto thin ice to the location where the woman was last seen. There she found the woman partially submersed in the freezing water. With temperatures in the minus 35-40 degrees Celsius range, a wet and weary Cst. Jestings found the strength to pull the woman out of the river and drag her to shore. Sadly, efforts to revive the woman were unsuccessful.

Cst. Jestings is now posted to Wood Buffalo RCMP Detachment in Fort McMurray.

Constable Christopher Penney

On July 8, 2007, Constable Penney risked his personal safety in his efforts to prevent a distraught, suicidal 22 year-old man from taking his own life. Cst. Penney and his colleague Cst. Michael Turco responded to a report of a man perched on a small, 3-foot by 3-foot ledge beneath the deck of a bridge spanning the Red Deer River. Upon arrival on scene, Cst. Penney distracted the man long enough for his colleague to make his way to the ledge, where a physical struggle with the man ensued. Cst. Penney rushed to Cst. Turco’s assistance and after 25 minute struggle, the officers were able to restrain him and the man was lifted from the ledge to safety by a bucket truck. The man was then taken to hospital for treatment.

Cst. Penney is now posted to Whitecourt RCMP Detachment.

Cst. Turco no longer works in Alberta and will receive his award at his new RCMP posting.

Corporal Guy Johnson, Constable Ron Lyver and Sergeant Peter King

On Dec. 4, 2011, the Red Deer Emergency Response Team (ERT) attended a rural property near Breton, Alta. in response to a report of shots fired from a mobile home. After clearing all of the outbuildings on the property, ERT members moved towards the trailer, where they broke a window to install an electronic recognizance device that would assist them in determining if the home was vacant. They were met with were met with a barrage of gunfire from within the home. One ERT member was seriously wounded and unable to retreat from the line of fire. Cst. Lyver advanced towards the window to provide other ERT members cover in their efforts to assist their wounded colleague. After another ERT member was hit. During this time, Cst. Lyver positioned himself between his injured colleagues, stood his ground and returned fire as Cpl. Johnson put himself in harm’s way to pull the most-seriously injured member to safety. The wounded officers were air-lifted to hospital. Both recovered from their wounds, but one was left with permanent arm damage. The suspect was eventually taken into police custody, and is now serving an eight-year prison sentence.

Cpl. Johnson is now a firearms instructor posted to Edmonton.

Cst. Ron Lyver is now posted to Blackfalds RCMP Detachment.

Sgt. King is now posted to Edson RCMP Detachment.

Constable Dru Abernethy and Constable Leah Russell

In the early morning hours of July 29, 2013 constables Abernethy and Russell responded to a fire at a seniors care facility in Rocky Mountain House, Alta. arriving on scene eight minutes before the local fire department. During that time, and without the benefit of respiratory or other firefighting equipment, the officers worked together to locate and evacuate the residents of the three-story facility. While some seniors were able to make their own way to safety, some required police escort, while others required rescue from the smoked-filled and burning building. The officers exposed themselves to heavy smoke, flames and intense heat in their determination to clear the residence. At one point, Cst. Abernethy’s clothes caught fire and he was overcome by the smoke. After regaining his composure outside, he ventured back into the burning building to assist Cst. Russell in the rescue of an elderly resident.

Cpl. Dru Abernethy is still posted to Rocky Mountain House RCMP Detachment.

Cst. Leah Russel is now posted to Fort Vermillion RCMP Detachment.

RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson presents to Cst. Leah Russell
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson presents to Cst. Leah Russell

Constable (former) Hector Lloyd (Commendation for Outstanding Service)

Throughout 2012, Cst. Lloyd played an important role in the investigation into the theft of several thousand exhibits from museums and archives throughout Atlantic Canada. The vast majority of the stolen property was of invaluable historic significance, and was eventually returned to its grateful owners to once again be shared with the greater community. Cst. Lloyd’s dedication to this investigation resulted in the thief pleading guilty to 40 criminal charges for which he received a nine-year prison sentence. He also forfeited $740,000 in proceeds of crime to the Crown.

Mr. Lloyd has since left the RCMP and serves with Edmonton Police Service.