Local residents have been given an award frot he governor for their heroic actions.

The Missouri Public Safety Medals were awarded in a ceremony at the State Capital on Oct. 7. Awards were given to 18 first responders and six civilians for heroic and life-saving actions in 2018, including several area residents

According to a press release from Kelly Jones, Governor Mike Parson’s communications director, the awards are the state’s highest recognition for first responders working as individuals and as members of teams during critical incidents. The civilians were honored for taking on extreme risks during critical incidents to support first responders and the safety of the public.

“The private citizens we honored performed extraordinarily courageous acts,” Gov. Parson said.

Matthew W. Neely, Missouri State Highway Patrol, received the Medal of Valor, Missouri's highest award recognizing public safety officers who exhibit exceptional courage, extraordinary decisiveness and presence of mind, and unusual swiftness of action, regardless of his or her personal safety, in the attempt to save or protect human life, according to the press release.

Neely was given the award following his actions on March 19, 2018. On that day, Troop H communications broadcast that a man and woman suspected in a residential theft in Ridgeway, had just fled in a silver Ford Taurus. Trooper Neely spotted the vehicle southbound on Interstate 35, however, before Trooper Neely could attempt to stop the vehicle, the driver exited the interstate and crashed into a utility pole. As Neely arrived on the scene, the driver and passenger exited the vehicle with the driver fleeing on foot. Trooper Neely informed the passenger she was under arrest and ordered her to remain with the vehicle. Then, as Neely pursued the driver on foot across an open field, the man turned and fired multiple shots at him. The trooper attempted to take cover as best he could. Once the gunfire stopped, Trooper Neely radioed that shots had been fired and advanced on the gunman while commanding him to drop his weapon. The gunman attempted to re-engage Trooper Neely who then fired several shots, striking the gunman twice and ending the threat. Trooper Neely and another trooper provided first aid until medical assistance arrived. The gunman survived. Despite being fired upon, Trooper Neely exhibited exceptional courage and tenacity by advancing on an armed felon, apprehending him and ending the threat.

Cody B. Ross, Jason M. Huff, Cade A. Thompson, Andrew W. Fritzinger, Missouri Department of Corrections; Richard W. Bashor, Cameron Police Department; and Bradley R. Muck, Missouri State Highway Patrol Troop Hall received the Governor’s Medal for their actions during a protest at a prison in Cameron.

The Governor’s Medal is awarded to a group of public safety officers in recognition of acts above and beyond the call of normal duty during a critical incident in which the collective performance of the group was essential to the successful resolution of the incident.

At 8 p.m. on May 12, 2018, approximately 209 offenders in two dining halls in the Central Services Building at the Crossroads Correctional Center refused to leave and stated they were staging a protest. The team notified all housing units to go on lockdown, which prevented an escalation to other areas of the facility. Conditions quickly deteriorated when offenders breached the kitchen area, obtained potentially dangerous cooking utensils and began vandalizing the kitchen. Offenders broke out windows and damaged doors and locks, allowing them to access unsecured areas of the facility and do even more destruction. The correctional center’s food service employees, corrections officers, and other staff were at risk. Corrections Supervisor I Ross, Corrections Officer III Huff, Corrections Supervisor I Thompson, and Corrections Officer III Fritzinger acted decisively, first attempting to deescalate the situation and then moving swiftly to evacuate staff members as the threat level increased. Corrections officers bravely put their own safety at risk as they inserted themselves into volatile areas to extricate personnel and remove them from the building. In a turbulent situation that could have easily devolved into chaos, the Corrections team tactically deployed pepper spray and tear gas and secured doors. They helped evacuate and secure 131 surrendering offenders, containing inside the 78 holdouts, who caused extensive structural and property damage. Because of their brave actions, no staff members were injured, and no offenders sustained serious injuries.

According to the press release from the governor’s office, when reached at home, Chief Bashor knew the potential for escalation at the prison. While en route to Crossroads, he activated the Cameron Police Department’s tactical team and mobile command center. As more details developed, he requested and received back up from eight sheriff and police departments as well as ambulance and fire departments. The law enforcement officers and Corrections Emergency Response Teams secured the perimeter of the institution. Operating from the incident command center, Chief Bashor received the first phone contact from the offenders and played a critical leadership role throughout the incident. Chief Bashor’s decision to muster over 100 law enforcement officers undoubtedly led to the offenders’ decision not to escalate further.

Trooper Muck, who was part of the Highway Patrol response, reported to the incident command center. Offenders had just made contact with Chief Bashor by phone. Trooper Muck, who had only weeks before completed hostage negotiator training, established rapport over the phone with two unidentified offenders. Working through the night, Trooper Muck listened as the offenders at first shouted their complaints all while gathering the information that he relayed to Warden Ronda Pash, including the number of offenders, their locations and injuries. Remaining calm and in control throughout the disturbance, Trooper Muck continued to establish trust and ultimately got the remaining 78 offenders to return to a dining hall and peacefully end the disturbance. Corrections officers then escorted the offenders to administrative segregation without incident.

Since the incident, Cade A. Thompson has been promoted to Corrections Supervisor II (Major), Andrew W. Fritzinger has been promoted to Corrections Supervisor I (Captain), and Cody B. Ross has retired.