During a 10-hour standoff, Federal Way police service dog Kaiser went through the crawl space and confronted an armed suspect at a Federal Way residence.
Officer Ben Tsung helped capture a wanted fugitive thanks to his electric bicycle proposal that was put to the test.
Det. Michael Coffey worked endlessly to bring charges against two suspects in the 2016 “Spree” murders.
Meet some of the Federal Way Police Department’s finest. The aforesaid, and several others were recently honored during the department’s annual award ceremony.
2018 Life Saving Award
Officer R.B. Blackshear and Officer Richard Graham – Nominated by: Lt. Otto
On Oct. 12, 2018, Officers R.B. Blackshear and Richard Graham responded to a CPR in progress call. Blackshear arrived about two minutes after being dispatched to the call. He found the female victim unconscious and unresponsive, and immediately began administering CPR. Graham was the second officer to arrive and took over chest compressions from Blackshear. Fire personnel arrived and took over life saving measures more than five minutes after the officers began CPR. By the end of the call, the female was breathing and was transported to St. Francis Hospital for further treatment. The officers’ quick response and immediate actions of providing CPR contributed to saving a human life.
2018 Medal of Distinguished Service Award
Police service dog Kaiser – Nominated by: Officer Buchanan
On April 4, 2018, Valley SWAT responded to an address in Federal Way for an incident where an armed suspect had barricaded himself inside a residence. Federal Way police service dog Kaiser was part of the Valley SWAT response. This incident lasted more than 10 hours as the suspect remained noncompliant and displayed his propensity for violence when he fired shots at SWAT officers, according to police.
Eventually SWAT located the suspect inside the residence’s crawl space, and it was believed he may have harmed himself due to being unresponsive to numerous techniques to persuade him to surrender. Instead of putting another human life in the crawl space with the suspect, Kaiser was deployed to verify the suspect was no longer a threat.
Once inside, Kaiser located and contacted the suspect. It was immediately apparent the suspect was still a threat when he fired a shot at Kaiser, began choking him and wrestling with him in the confined space, according to police. The suspect fired another shot at Kaiser, but Kaiser was able to get free and exit the crawl space. To everyone’s amazement, Kaiser was not shot during the altercation.
Kaiser’s partner, Officer Kyle Buchanan, wrote: “There is no doubt in my mind that Kaiser saved the lives of the SWAT team members when he went into the crawl space with the armed suspect. I believe the suspect was waiting for team members to approach him in the crawl space so that he could ambush them.”
Buchanan and Kaiser regularly train for these types of scenarios and that night, Kaiser performed exactly as he was trained to protect human life.
2018 Police Chief’s Citation
Customer Service Specialist Gretchen Sund – Nominated by: Cmdr. Norman
On Nov. 5, 2018, customer service specialist Gretchen Sund noted that FWPD volunteer Bill Morton was late for his volunteer shift, which is very unusual. Sund took numerous steps to check on Morton’s welfare, including calling his daughter in Florida. All were met with negative results.
Sund advised the on-duty lieutenant of the circumstances. Officers were sent to conduct a welfare check at his Federal Way residence. Morton was found lying on the floor in his living room. He told the officers that the night before, at about 7 p.m., he fell and was unable to get up. Medical aid was summoned and he was transported to the hospital for treatment. He suffered a contusion to his head and a broken hip that required emergency surgery.
If not for Sund’s concern for Morton and her request to have a welfare check performed, Morton could have been much worse off. He has been a steadfast volunteer with FWPD since February 1997 and is the longest-serving volunteer with the department. He will turn 95 on May 15. Sund is being recognized for her quick action and concern that may have saved a human life.
2018 Civilian Employee of the Year Award
Records Specialist Amanda Hewer – Nominated by: Lt. Otto
Otto wrote: “Recognition for good work is not always passed along. I would like to tell you how appreciative I am of the work product Amanda Hewer provides. I only get to work with Amanda two days a week and only for a few hours, but during that time she is very productive.
“Many times when officers are on a ‘hot call’ she is listening and able to provide information to them, sometimes before it is even asked for. She always seems to be aware of what officers are doing and when asked for additional records checks, she is quick to get the information. Many times that information is needed in a prompt fashion and not everyone is as swift as she is in providing the needed information. She is a field training officer and I am hopeful she will pass this trait on to all she trains.”
Hewer always performs her daily tasks with a great upbeat attitude and is completely fearless no matter what she is asked to do. Her working relationship with every member of staff she has contact with is positive and professional. While all of her work is praiseworthy, the efficiency and effectiveness in which she has performed is entirely remarkable.
2018 Officer of the Year Award
Officer Ben Tseng -Nominated by: Cpl. Josh Haglan and Officer David Johnson
Officer Ben Tseng is the embodiment of a hardworking, proactive, fair and compassionate officer. His commitment to this profession and the community is unwavering and the following information is just a small sample of his work product this year.
• Tseng submitted an electric bicycle proposal consisting of product and cost analysis, working with vendors and local maintenance providers. The bikes were put to the test immediately resulting in a wanted fugitive capture that was fleeing on foot, from patrol cars, however Tseng and the electric bike swooped in to take the suspect into custody. The bikes also sparked the interest of several media outlets resulting in positive news articles.
• Over the years, Special Operations Unit has been working with property owners to address transient camps. One of the largest identified camps, situated on 22 acres with 11 different campsites, was the South 304th North Camp. This camp had the potential of turning into a dangerous situation. Tseng worked with law, code compliance, landowners and several community outreach groups to systematically tackle this problem location. Tseng took networking to the next level by enlisting other landowners, who had experience a similar situation, provide guidance and assistance. This positive collaboration resulted in making the nearby neighborhood and the area safer.
• Assisted with and was an integral part working with Special Investigative Unit in taking down several marijuana grow operations in the Twin Lakes community.
• Working SOU details on Jan. 12, 2018, Tseng decided to assist patrol due to high call volumes. He took a theft case at a gas station at 312th and Pacific Highway South where a suspect aggressively reached over the counter and grabbed money from the cash register. A bulletin circulated about similar thefts occurring in neighboring jurisdictions and Tseng noticed the MO was similar to his case. Tseng worked with SeaTac, Kent, Des Moines and Burien to help identify the suspect. He interviewed countless victims and witnesses and reviewed several hours of video surveillance to identify the suspect. Due to his tenacity and commitment, the suspect was identified and later confessed to several of the thefts.
• Tseng volunteers to assist patrol and DOC with warrant sweeps. He serves an important role as he assists in identifying locations and subjects with DOC and Federal Way warrants. Without being requested, he routinely produces comprehensive packets with names, photos, warrant details and potential locations of warrant subjects.
• In 2018, Tseng completed 168 cases, 208 notices of trespass and 52 FI’s. These numbers are significant based on SOU’s core assignment to address complaints surrounding transient issues.
Tseng should be recognized for his motivation, excellent teamwork and professionalism that he has displayed over the duration of 2018, according to the department. Furthermore, this exemplary job performance demonstrates his dedication to this department and more importantly to the citizens of Federal Way.
2018 Detective of the Year Award
Det. Michael Coffey -Nominated by: Lt. Bensen
Det. Michael Coffey had an excellent year in the Criminal Investigation Section. In 2018, CIS had three new detectives join the unit. Coffey’s leadership and training helped the new detectives perform their duties quickly. Despite his individual caseload and other assigned duties, he makes himself available to assist other detectives as needed.
A main component in modern felony investigations is cell phones. Coffey is one of only three detectives who are capable of downloading information from all cell phones. He spends countless hours assisting CIS obtaining cell phone information.
With his knowledge, training and experience, Coffey is a key member of the Crime Scene Team. He also assisted with training for two new members of the crime scene team.
The most important part of our law enforcement mission is to protect the people we serve. Coffey’s dedication and commitment to protecting our community is the main reason he deserves to be the 2018 Detective of the Year. He was one of the detectives who worked endlessly to bring charges forth on the 2016 “Spree” murders in May 2018. Two suspects have been charged and are in custody awaiting trial for the senseless crimes they committed against our community.
Coffey was also the lead detective in the 2016 Wesley Jennings murder. On Nov. 30, 2018, after a six-week trial, both suspects were found guilty of murder.
His hard work and countless hours led to four violent people being removed from the community and he has been a strong and powerful voice for the victims of these crimes, according to the department.
2018 Supervisor of the Year Award
Lieutenant Mark Bensen -Nominated by: Cmdr. Arbuthnot
Lt. Mark Bensen began his assignment in CIS on Jan. 1, 2018, knowing that Lt. Tom Robinson was retiring in April of the same year. Bensen quickly immersed himself in the major cases that were being investigated at the time (“Spree” and Jennings homicides). He was also responsible for training three new detectives, even though he had not been involved in CIS for almost 13 years. Bensen assumed responsibility for his assigned detectives and coordinated with Lt. Robinson in preparation for taking over the unit later in the year. After Robinson’s retirement, Bensen successfully supervised CIS for two months on his own. He assisted in training new CIS Lt. Jim Nelson once he was selected for Robinson’s replacement.
Bensen stepped in to assume additional responsibilities during his first year in CIS. He took over as the Federal Way Valley Investigative Team supervisor, Hostage Negotiation Team upervisor, and EVOC supervisor. Additionally, he completed the Advancing Leadership program and remains involved with the organization. He also volunteers with the YES network. He has attended National Night Out and Coffee-with-a-Cop events.
The positive attitude and work ethic have been reflected in Bensen’s daily performance carrying out his duties.
2018 MVP of the Year Award
Officer Robert Bracco – Nominated by: Lt. Otto
Officer Robert Bracco is a valued member on F-squad and in turn a valued member to our organization. He consistently reports to work early; car loaded and logged in ready to work. He is not the least senior officer on the squad; however he does not hesitate to move districts to fill the void created when others are off. He does not shy away from work or taking cases, including ones that are not in his assigned district. When comparing his stats to others on the squad, he surpasses them. For the year, Bracco has a total of 60 FI’s, 188 citations and 260 case reports. Of the 260 reports, 13 were DUI reports.
Bracco is always willing to assist in cases and help out other agencies with their calls for service when perimeter is requested. Just recently he volunteered to assist with perimeter to Kent on a K9 track for a homicide suspect. Bracco regularly seeks out opportunities to be proactive by requesting to be a “50” car. You can expect him to be productive with warrant arrests and traffic stops when he works in that capacity.
Bracco volunteers as an Explorer advisor, helping to educate youth who are interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement. In addition to all of his other commitments, he is seeking to become a firearms instructor. It is because of his dedication to the organization and his desire to lead by example that he deserves this award.